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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.

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Presentation on theme: "Information Technology Training and Employment Program for Rural Communities Presented by Mel Ustad Associate Dean of Research University of South Dakota."— Presentation transcript:

1 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

2 Rural Information Technology Employment (RITE) Link 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.

3 Project Partners University of South Dakota Sitting Bull Community College Consortium of K-12 Schools IT Businesses & Entrepreneurs Economic Development Organizations University Researchers & Technology Entrepreneurships Programs

4 RITE Link Process 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

5 Findings 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.

6 Findings Continued 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.

7 New Initiatives RITE Team Association—Organized by participants to market IT skills. Non-Profit Membership organization RITE Link Participants Communities interested in IT based economic development.

8 RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Something 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

9 RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Our 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

10 RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Target 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)

11 RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Services 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

12 RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI) Funding 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.

13 University Research and Technology Entrepreneurs 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.

14 Unique Features of Project 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 21 st century technology high paying jobs rather than attracting 20 th century declining industries Focus on quality of life in rural communities

15 K-12 Project Activities 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.

16 Additional Information Mel Ustad Principal Investigator Associate Dean of Research University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD Project Website:


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