The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization that serves economic development officers nationwide. Its 2021 Future Economic Forum conference focused on fostering regional innovation, economic transformation, and equity in the new economy. Naturally, broadband access, adoption programs, and digital equity strategies are central to those goals.
In the age of COVID-19, high-speed Internet access has been the conduit required to deploy emergency relief efforts at scale. It determined which students were able to excel in online learning, whether residents were able to work from home, and what opportunities were available to improve overall well-being.
On June 7, 2021, Francella Ochillo, Next Century Cities’ Executive Director, provided a lightning talk for the Broadband Infrastructure and Connectivity session. Explaining why broadband is the 21st century electricity, Francella highlighted examples why ubiquitous broadband access and adoption are core traits of resilient communities. She also emphasized why every stakeholder – government officials, providers, community leaders, concerned citizens, and others – have an important role to play in closing the digital divide.