Information Technology Training and Employment Program for Rural Communities
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Information Technology Training and Employment Program for Rural Communities Presented by Mel Ustad Associate Dean of Research University of South Dakota Strengthening & Building Partnerships for Workforce Development March 5, 2003 Orlando, Florida

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Information Technology Training and Employment Program for Rural CommunitiesPresented byMel Ustad Associate Dean of Research University of South Dakota

Strengthening & Building Partnerships for Workforce Development

March 5, 2003

Orlando, Florida

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Rural Information Technology Employment (RITE) Link Rural Communities

  • National Science Foundation Information Technology Research/Workforce Development Project

  • Objective

    • Develop and test a model IT education/training/economic development program for rural communities utilizing distance education and telecommunications technologies for education and employment of IT workers.

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Project Partners Rural Communities

  • University of South Dakota

  • Sitting Bull Community College

  • Consortium of K-12 Schools

  • IT Businesses & Entrepreneurs

  • Economic Development Organizations

  • University Researchers & Technology Entrepreneurships Programs

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RITE Link Process Rural Communities

  • Recruit rural communities & participants-Six rural communities & over 700 participants

  • Create community IT profile

  • Screen participants-150 participants

  • Provide IT training to selected participants

  • Recruit IT business partners

  • IT business partner employs IT training participant

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Findings Rural Communities

  • Rural community interest is high.

  • Existing education and IT skill level of 700 rural residents interested in the program was high. (70% Post Secondary Ed)

  • 81% of the 150 training participants have post secondary education.

  • 77% of IT training participants are female.

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Findings Continued Rural Communities

  • Infrastructure is adequate in most rural Midwest communities.

  • With the tech sector slowdown large IT business interest has declined remote employees but outsource more work.

  • The business focus has sifted to entrepreneurial development and alternative partners, smaller IT companies.

  • Facilitating a change in the IT business culture and structure is difficult.

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New Initiatives Rural Communities

  • RITE Team Association—Organized by participants to market IT skills.

    Non-Profit Membership organization RITE Link Participants

    Communities interested in IT based economic development.

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RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Rural CommunitiesSomething Was Still Missing

  • The RITE-Team Association to date has had limited success.

  • It is apparent that several key elements are missing from their efforts:

    • A full-time sales and marketing effort to win large scale consulting bids and build business partner relationships

    • People to form and manage the project teams delivering the consulting services

    • The infrastructure necessary to support these teams whose members may be distributed in rural areas

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RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Rural CommunitiesOur Mission

  • Provide clients world-class e-Business consulting, application development and hosting services

  • Provide employment and consulting opportunities for USD, DSU and RITE-Link program graduates

  • Provide higher-paying jobs for these individuals who chose to live in rural communities

  • Provide solid earnings to our shareholders while being a good corporate citizen

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RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Rural CommunitiesTarget Markets

RRI will go to where the business is:

  • Initial markets of Sioux Falls, Sioux City & Omaha have a population base of 1.5 million. RRI must prove its model in these markets in its first year

  • Then we can expand to markets within a one-day drive including Kansas City, Davenport, Des Moines, & Minneapolis (5.5 million people)

  • Then to markets within a two-day drive including Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver and Colorado Springs (16.5 million)

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RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Rural CommunitiesServices Offered

  • Software application development for e-Business using Java

  • Architecture, design and business analysis

  • Project management services

  • Web-based application hosting services

  • Quality Assurance testing services

  • Telephone customer support services

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RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Rural CommunitiesFunding Needed

  • RRI stock allocated to three groups:

    • RRI Management & employees (40%),

    • reserved for future needs (20%)

    • initial investors including USD, RITE-Team Association and five communities (40%)

  • GOED Future Fund grant dollars match community investments.

  • Existing facilities used in many communities.

  • Low infrastructure costs.

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University Research and Technology Entrepreneurs Rural Communities

  • N2TEC partnership links university research and technology entrepreneurs to rural communities to identify and explore IT and technology based opportunities.

  • Internet based venture presentations by technology entrepreneurs

  • Expose rural communities to technology based entrepreneurship

  • Provides university based technology entrepreneurs to additional funding and support opportunities.

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Unique Features of Project Rural Communities

  • Communities collaborating rather than competing.

  • Large research universities involved in rural development efforts.

  • Entrepreneurial Economic Development

    • Communities & universities have equity

    • Employees have equity

  • Focus on building 21st century technology high paying jobs rather than attracting 20th century declining industries

  • Focus on quality of life in rural communities

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K-12 Project Activities Rural Communities

  • TechTown—IT use and career exploration website & lesson plans for elementary school students

  • CyberSpace Camp—Internet based summer and after school program that allows students to explore IT advances, their community and IT entrepreneurship opportunities.

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Additional Information Rural Communities

Mel Ustad

Principal Investigator

Associate Dean of Research

University of South Dakota

Vermillion, SD 57069


[email protected]

Project Website: