By Recker McDowell —
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants to invest $60 million to install new broadband and fiber optic cable in rural Arizona. The technology infrastructure would go along the rural corridors of Interstates 40, 17 and 19 as well as in Page, Payson and Bullhead City.
The overwhelming majority of jobs being created in Arizona are in Phoenix and Tucson. It’s also no secret that rural communities including Native American reservations need more jobs and economic development.
But the world is changing — including how and where we work. Increasing number of jobs can be done mostly or completely remotely (including at home or at a Starbucks or a local coffee shop).
More forward-thinking employers are flexible with where, when and how their employees do their jobs. Technology is front and center with those jobs. It gives both employee and employer flexibility in where and how they work.
There are also workers (young and old) who would like to live in small towns and rural communities but there are not enough jobs.
Consequently, Ducey’s plans for rural broadband are smart investments in communities that need and are poised for economic development.
Rural economic development is also a focus on other states such as New Mexico, Utah and Texas. Those are states that all compete with Arizona for site selections and jobs. The future economic competition will go beyond Phoenix competing with Denver, Albuquerque and Salt Lake City but will include rural Arizona looking to attract jobs along with its counterparts in other states.
The marketplace and jobs are global. That is not exclusive to big cities and it is smart to invest in rural areas and small towns for their economic future. Broadband and technology are paramount to helping attract jobs.