The mission for Connected Tennessee has everything to do with access and interaction.
It does this by helping to provide broadband Internet connections and similar technology for residents and businesses across the state.
And for farmers and others in rural communities, that equates to more opportunities.
“When it comes to farmers and the agriculture industry, how broadband helps and impacts is really twofold,” says Jennifer Cobb, public relations specialist for Connected Tennessee. “One way would be sharing best practices with farmers, collaboration, ideas or techniques. And on the other side, things like commodities, pricing, ordering supplies – doing that online versus maybe doing that by hand.
“Now that there is access in the rural communities, that helps from an economic development standpoint. It’s connecting these rural communities and offering them the same kind of benefits that more suburban or city neighborhoods have. It’s expanding their opportunities.”
Connected Tennessee, which has a public-private partnership with technology minded businesses, government entities and universities throughout the state, was formed in 2007 to close the gap between locations with broadband access and those without. It was a significant divide some seven years ago, but today Tennessee is recognized as a leader in technology expansion. The state continues to set the standard for broadband education, adoption and deployment.
“Our latest figures show 98.4 percent of rural households have broadband access, and that’s a six percent increase in the last year,” Cobb says. “That’s our goal, to get Tennesseans on the Internet, so we’re pleased with these numbers.”
As part of its mission, Connected Tennessee is striving to accelerate the availability and use of technology and create a better business environment, more effective communities and economic development, improved health care, enhanced education and more efficient government.
On the education front, the organization implemented a program known as Computers 4 Kids in 2010. Aided by $2.3 million in federal funding, the program aims to increase sustainable broadband and provide computers and training to more than 60,000 disadvantaged youths in Tennessee.
The Connected Tennessee website, www.connectedtn.org, has more information on Computers 4 Kids as well as other programs and initiatives. Visitors to the site can also learn about broadband providers in their area and even take free online computer skills courses.