Here are a few examples of the kinds of spin off activities that this project has generated.

  1. Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) plan on continuing to explore ways to develop the partnership established by working together on this project. Experience with this project has demonstrated that economic development in disadvantaged rural areas and based on e-commerce requires strong, credible local leadership working in concert with external resources in a position to provide needed startup expertise and services. VCE is in an excellent position to help with leadership; the BEV can continue to bring needed technical expertise; and both can negotiate for additional resources as needed for interesting projects and prototypes going forward. Leaders from both organizations met at the end of this project to discuss a certification program that addresses the need to discover and nurture local talent in rural counties, and build the kinds of technical expertise they will need to be able to participate in online commerce. We see the need to provide the kind of comprehensive business support to the online entrepreneur that VCE traditionally provided to the family farm and through many community development programs. Though still in its 'incubation' stage, we believe such a program '- consumable locally through Extension and focused on how to plan, start, and operate an online micro-business (or expand an extant home-based business online) using resources available on the Web today'might be a grass roots force to help increase the amount and types of goods and services flowing from rural areas into the world economy. As such, it should increase demand for rural broadband investments even as it offers economic opportunity to rural residents. We'll be looking for examples of programs like this and for financial support for this idea over the next year.
  2. Towards the end of this project, King & Queen County's Rappahannock Tribe of Native Americans shared their Comprehensive Plan with BEV management through the county extension agent, Alinda Uzel. The tribe's plan is to recover and manage their original lands in keeping with traditional tribal values. These values are consistent with many ecological principles popular today as well as with the idea of sustainable 'rural systems' espoused by Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus Robert Giles, College of Natural Resources. Giles uses GIS and data mapping techniques to analyze resources and economic opportunities in geographic areas. Consequently, arrangements were made and Dr. Giles traveled to King & Queen with the BEV Director, Bill Sanders, in late August and met with Chief Anne Richardson and VCE agent Alinda Uzel to explore ideas, needs, and potential economic development opportunities consistent with tribal resources, goals, and traditions. Enthusiasm among all parties at that meeting was high and the chief will be approaching her tribal council with many of the concepts and ideas. Should the tribe decide to move any of those ideas forward, BEV will meet with them again and begin looking at ways to partner and assist.
  3. The Cumberland County school system received a three year 'Learn to Serve' grant that will help the school board utilize the Web site developed for Cumberland County as part of this project to meet grant objectives. The grant addresses several issues such as providing business and industry links to the Cumberland First Web site, developing promotion materials for county economic development, students teaching adults Web page development, and the opportunity for high school students to learn Web page design. The public school system plans to work with the Cumberland technology leadership team to accomplish these tasks. The grant period is March, 2004 through September, 2007.
  4. Tiger Tail Web site for children: A spin off activity of the Electronic Village in King and Queen has been the addition of a site for children. The Community Prevention Council provided resources for the development of a site just for kids that includes a calendar of events for children and youth, resources for help with homework, and connections with the local DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program.
  5. The BEV internship program: Though this program (described earlier in this report) was initiated in the second quarter of 2004 (i.e. during the life of this project), interest in continuing it past the life of the project is very strong. BEV Director Bill Sanders is continuing to explore possibilities with Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Staunton, VA and other organizations that wish to train interns under this program. These institutions are in the business of providing professional development and job training in the technical fields, including various certifications. A partnership that can systematically place their interns not just locally, but virtually anywhere in the Commonwealth significantly expands opportunities and has the potential to create considerable added value to all concerned. Since Community Colleges throughout the state offer similar programs, the BEV plans to discuss this idea in that venue in the year ahead to determine what can be done to advance this partnership idea. The BEV Director will join representatives from Woodrow Wilson and one of their interns at the Governor's Conference on Workforce and Career Development, Richmond, VA in October, 2004 as part of a panel discussion of the results of the internship program.

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