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Strengthening America's Communities Initiative Report

Creating a 21st Century World Class Workforce

In a recent telecast, August, 2005, “Creating a 21st Century World Class Workforce” Sandy Baruah, acting Asst. Secretary for the U.S. Dept of Commerce related the following:


“Innovation is the only sustainable competitive advantage the United States has; we are the world’s innovators. We need to do more to help communities develop their ability to continually innovate in order to complete globally. Workers are the engine of innovation.  “Leave no worker behind” is the new theme. Everyone must have access to education and skills development opportunities. We need more rural elearning. 23% of Americans are functionally illiterate and can not even fill out an employment form. We need to reverse the decline in literacy. We need to optimize talent development for innovation.


The U.S. faces a worker shortage of 10 million workers by 2011. This is the greatest labor and skills shortage in the history of our nation. Professions in healthcare and our public schools will be the hardest hit. There will be renewed emphasis on developing emerging workers including high school drop-outs, the chronically unemployed, immigrants, and individuals with disabilities. Retaining retirees with flexible work hours and telework will be a key emphasis. Canada faces similar shortages and in response has tripled the number of immigrants.


At both the community and federal government levels stimulating innovation and ongoing learning is the emerging goal, but the history of community networking demonstrates how difficult it is for even local champions to engage the majority of any community in new ways of sharing information. Successful federally sponsored community innovation programs have yet to be demonstrated. See the new report at www.commerce.gov Click on “Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative”

Speakers are available to present on the Strengthening America's Communities Initiative Contact Brian Borlik at DOC  bborlik@eda.doc.gov 202 482 3901

Future telecast details are available at the NARC website www.narc.org and www.universityhouse.nau.edu Email questions to Tadej@narc.org



Sept. 26th Strengthening America's Communities Initiative Telecast:

Summary for the September 26th second telecast on the Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative

There will be 18 new initiatives designed to help U.S. regions keep pace with global competitiveness. The new goals will focus on targeting communities most in need, particularly those less prepared to deal with global competitiveness due to poverty, location, and out-migration. The trend is funding ideas coming from the bottom-up instead of the traditional top-down model, I.E. funding innovative local/regional initiatives and supporting new local/regional leadership.

We’ve entered a new paradigm shift and need new partnerships to grow competitive niches regionally. Communities need to transcend historical acrimony to begin to work together as regions -to have one strong voice that can be heard.


To become globally competitive regions must:
1. clearly understand where they are now and focus on their best competitive edge.
2. address the new drivers of regional growth: innovation and entrepreneurship,
3. craft a competitive strategy – prepare to participate in the new 24/7 Entrepreneurial Olympics with innovation as a prime driver for success.


Current policy (portrayed as an inverted pyramid, top to bottom,) emphasizes
1. recruitment, 2. retention, 3. entrepreneurship, and must be replaced with a new policy for regional competitiveness completely reversing current policy with priorities as
1. entrepreneurship, 2. retention, 3. recruitment.


New federal funding will address:

The need to align community development and economic development by investing in local and regional leadership skills.

Developing new metrics (past metrics was # jobs)


Rural culture needs to shift toward creating an entrepreneurial culture.

“Planting seeds of entrepreneurship must begin early enough in a child’s primary education to establish entrepreneurship as a lifelong choice.”

Regions and communities need to engage in “Creative Destruction” - I.E. continually reinventing themselves. We need applied research and development in regions and new leadership. Regions need to better understand exactly who is in the region (particularly the currently invisible talented teleworkers and Internet entrepreneurs and other untapped human resources.)


“Development Readiness” must be demonstrated to receive federal funding.

Communities must demonstrate they have developed strong community plans for their own future and exhibit a readiness to absorb and spend federal monies. Development readiness will be determined as having demonstrated development of a proper K12 educational program.


Funding will be formula driven, communities won’t need to apply. Population thresholds will be the determinant for direct funds, smaller communities will have funding allocated by the state.


Federal policy needs to change the granting process from emphasis on sizzle and grantsmanship to emphasis on quality of programs from communities without paid professional grantwriters.


5% of total funds will be given as challenge grants - as a bonus if crime rates are lowered, private investments are available, strong K12 educational programs are in place, and other criteria yet to be developed.


Rural community and regional competitiveness is very much a global issue and we are likely to learn a lot from how other countries are dealing with these issues, (particularly Australia, New Zealand and Canada)



To: Key leaders in government at dept. of commerce and dept. of labor.

Carlos M. Gutierrez - Secretary of Commerce cgutierrez@doc.gov

Sandy Baruah, Acting Asst. Secretary of Commerce
sbaruah@eda.doc.gov 202 482 5081

Emily Stover DeRocco, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training (DOL)
etapagemaster@dol.gov (202) 693-2700

Jim Yeager Senior Advisor to Asst. Sec. of Commerce for Economic Development jyeager@eda.doc.gov

Dr. Mark Drabenstott, mark.drabenstott@kc.frb.org  Director - Center for Study of Rural America, Kansas City, MO http://www.kc.frb.org/RuralCenter/RuralMain.htm



The Montana Choice demonstration project for the US Department of Labor is demonstrating rural innovations related directly to the goals of the Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative. Recent USDOL funding cuts will soon end this program. The SACI advisory committee would be well-advised to review the extensive replicable innovations of this unique rural Ecommerce and Telework program and to request a presentation on the Montana Choice project.


As the Ecommerce and Telework online trainer for the project, Frank Odasz, as Lone Eagle Consulting, will deliver a rural network coordinators workshop for Industry Canada, Oct. 26th, sharing these “Montana Choice” innovations in conjunction with advising Industry Canada on their new national strategy initiative.

Industry Canada Ecommerce Workshop Description


More on the Montana Choice innovations at http://lone-eagles.com/montana-choice.htm and http://lone-eagles.com/future-proofing.htm


The attached short article below highlights the importance of the Montana Choice innovations:


Timely Rural Opportunities


The economic costs of the Katrina disaster and the Iraq war stand to dramatically reduce state and federal community development funding at a time when the rural economic decline in particular, and out-sourcing of jobs, and out-migration of our youth is becoming a national disaster in its own right. Solutions do exist but they require a spirit of innovation as well as widespread participation in order to be successful.
The Internet represents a tool with the potential for unlimited e-learning, fingertip access to global markets, and opportunities for unlimited collaboration between communities in each state, across the U.S., as well as with global communities - IF we can learn to leverage the benefits while there is still time.


Lone Eagle Consulting’s entry-level self-directed ecommerce training resources could be

used by Katrina evacuees as a fast-track entry-level web-based self-employment

training solution. Or by all rural citizens if they are informed of the availability and ideally provided access to peer mentors locally.


It is important for national leaders to understand the scalability of the solutions Lone Eagle Consulting has been presenting statewide in Montana during the past two years as part of a demonstration project for the U.S. Department of Labor. There are many action strategies rural and urban individuals and communities CAN engage in to use the Internet to grow their economies without outside funding.


In fact, motivating the majority of Americans to begin to get involved with the global innovation economy is something the government cannot mandate, but that citizens must  decide to do for themselves, and for each other. Not since WWII has there been a greater need for Americans to volunteer to help one another, and today we have powerful tools at our fingertips that can dramatically leverage the goodwill of everyone who participates.


As the new national community networking and wireless resources coordinator for the CTC VISTA project (http://www.comtechreview.org/spring-summer-2005/000337.html ) Lone Eagle Consulting has posted an instructional blog (public web log) as a scalable fast-track self-directed entry-level web-based self-employment training solution. www.cpcs.umb.edu/vista/blog/frank_odasz

Note: The next Community Technology Review will be a special issue on community networking. Current and past issues are at http://www.comtechreview.org


National, state, and local leaders have a unique opportunity to validate bottom-up ecommerce innovations by innovative Americans by encouraging online sharing of ecommerce success stories, existing free online training, and peer-mentoring programs.
Such as the programs described in detail at http://lone-eagles.com/seeds.htm and http://lone-eagles.com/mentoring-mission.htm


A brief example community event: Sept. 22nd, 2005, in a community of 200 (Winnett, MT) a community web-raiser event was held, and after a 1-1/2 hour presentation... 30 adult attendees created a beginning community website with 16 free ecommerce sites...in only 45 minutes.  After this initial ecommerce awareness event everyone can now continue to develop their own free password-protected ecommerce web sites. The community website is http://winnett-webraiser.tripod.com 

Suggested next steps would be to engage citizens in online learning via online lessons designed for rural citizens that have never taken an online class before. “A Beginners Guide to Profiting from the Internet” http://lone-eagles.com/ecom.htm  Ten two-hour lessons provide a hands-on overview of what’s working for others like them with Ebay, Ecommerce, and Telework. The only skills necessary for these lessons are “point and click.” The next hands-on workshop will focus on emarketing strategies and affiliate programs.


The whole point here is that by coming together, the community created something significant....which via word-of-mouth will generate anticipation for the next event to be held in just a few weeks. Similar events can show communities how to work together to create a mentors roster for peer-mediated skills transfer, a web-business directory and co-emarketing program, an ecommerce incubator to help all businesses establish a web presence, engaging K12 students as digital entrepreneurs, celebrating local innovators, and more.


As citizens become aware of the web innovations of other rural communities, they'll be in a position to support locals with web skills (youth in particular) to generate ongoing innovations.


This "ongoing" community learning process will prove to be indispensable for any national initiative focused on community participation related to Internet/Ecommerce adoption and applications. 


Current Lone Eagle Resources include Ecommerce success stories from Idaho, Native American resources, graduate online courses for K12 educators, community grant templates, and more at http://lone-eagles.com/future-proofing.htm ...representing five-years of USDA-supported innovations in partnership with Idaho State University's College of Technology Workforce Training Office.


Hard Evidence That This Model Has Already Been Proven to Work
Recommended validation for what’s possible would be viewing the recent CNBC documentary “The Ebay Effect: Worldwide Obsession” As the fastest growing company in U.S. history, Ebay serves as the best global example of an online community flourishing and producing widespread income in the process. Ebay has 135 million users and has expanded into 33 countries. This would make Ebay the 9th largest country in the world, and they have only just begun. Ebay growth in the UK has been 100% or better for 17 quarters in a row. Ebay gains 20,000 new users a day in China. 15% of Ebay trades cross international borders and this will soon dramatically increase.


Toward the end of the video it shows folks in rural communities who enjoy
self-sufficiency due to Ebay. The show ended with the potential for third
world crafters to benefit - but stated that today it is still just an idea.
Order the $40 video:http://moneycentral.msn.com/Content/CNBCTV/TV_Info/email.asp You can also call 877-251-5685


Today, Ebay, Yahoo, Amazon, Google and other large corporations are beginning to focus on providing localized services; free collaborative tools, (http://groups.yahoo.com) free ecommerce web sites (http://tripod.com ), free resume-building with local job searches, (http://monster.com ) local searches (http://google.com ), local sales (http://froogle.com ), local maps (http://mapquest.com ), local classified ads (http://craigslist.com ) local satellite images and GIS mapping tools(http://earth.google.com ), and even local dating (http://eharmony.com ).

Frank Odasz, as Lone Eagle Consulting, has been working with online innovations in Montana for 20 years (including the Big Sky Telegraph 1988-1998) and offers unique expertise and extensive training resources to counter the current rural economic decline. Having presented keynotes for government conferences in Australia and Jamaica, Frank will be delivering a train-the-trainers workshop Oct. 26, 2005 to Canadian rural network directors in British Columbia while advising Industry Canada on their new national strategy focused on Internet Ecommerce adoption and applications.
Details at http://lone-eagles.com/network-coordinators-meeting.htm