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 Common Sense Use of Internet to Economize

and Supplement Rural Incomes 





To: Senator Tester

From: Frank Odasz
           Lone Eagle Consulting

Date: August 11, 2008

RE: Rural Small Businesses, Rising Prices, and Common Sense Use of Internet to Economize and Supplement Rural Incomes          

We first met and talked in person briefly in your DC office June 11th, 2008, about common sense use of fast Internet connections (broadband) to help rural businesses, farmers, and ranchers keep costs down and grow their capacity for economic survival. As keynoters stated repeatedly throughout last year’s Baucus Economic Summit, “Rural Montanans can now use Ecommerce to tap into global markets to supplement their farm/ranch incomes online, and telework from anywhere.”  

Supplementing family incomes using Internet is becoming widespread though most rural citizens do not know where to go to learn how to do this. Being rural shouldn’t mean being unaware of best practices for using Internet for rural sustainability when it is so easy and cost effective to put online training and mentoring services, online. Online distance learning and mentoring opportunities are profound, cost effective, and desperately needed.

Below are examples of rural Montana Ecommerce successes along with recommendations for a broadband training best practices clearinghouse. Online shopping, as one example, can help minimize unnecessary vehicle travel, and often offers better prices, too. Making life easier and connected to the best solutions as they emerge – is the promise of broadband.

It will be what rural Americans learn to actually DO with broadband that will determine their level of global competitiveness and benefits.

Today's "new economy" is knowledge-based, entrepreneurial, and globally competitive to an extent that was almost unimaginable even a decade ago. Education is the key to the 21st century, both in terms of economic prosperity and personal achievement.

In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of billion dollar social media business success stories (Ex. MySpace) and at the same time confusion regarding the promise of broadband resulting in disappointing take-up rates in rural and Native communities. The economic decline continues and the need for a new form of community education and fast-track action plans is growing dramatically. Montana has over 500 rural communities in dire economic straits along with major youth outmigration challenges. Rural community sustainability requires intelligent use of fast Internet connections for community wellness across the following nine essential areas; 1. Safety 2. Health 3. Education 4. Enterpreneurship 5. Ecommerce 6. Social Services 7. Culture 8.Government 9. Entertainment.

Broadband (high speed Internet) is becoming a necessity; offering the possibility of working from home, making life easier, and more connected. In our world of accelerating change, how you and your community will adapt and tap into the best solutions on an ongoing basis, is your challenge. The rising prices of oil and food are impacting rural sustainability and addressing the role of broadband as a partial solution is suddenly a key issue. Online shopping and broadband services have never been more important to sustain rural lifestyles by keeping costs down and enabling access to essential services and education.

In the past few weeks, Governors of NM and AK have passed state telework bills, and AK Senator Stevens has allocated a million for Native Ecommerce program development. www.ak-mep.org  

The National Governors Association has created a Center for Best Practices, and a new report “State Efforts to Expand Broadband Access,” (www.nga.org)  and the Asian Pacific Economic Council (APEC ) has begun to create a similar International clearinghouse:  www.connectedruralcommunities.net   

The Lone Eagle Update below offers resources to share and success stories to help you consider – what’s the best we can do for our youth and communities?

June 11, 2008, Washington, DC: Attended a meeting with Native Affairs directors from SBA, USDA, FCC to discuss an online clearinghouse for broadband training best practices. Also met with the program director of www.connectednation.org which has an E-communities leadership model with grassroots broadband awareness and adoption campaigns. Their online reports are well worth a review. And met with MT Senators Baucus and Tester to discuss the letter to the MT Gov. suggesting a Rural Ecommerce and Telework Support Network and to propose hosting a conference “Why Broadband?” focused on Montanan ecommerce and telework success stories. http://lone-eagles.com/support-montanans.htm Senator Baucus expressed interest in hosting such a conference. The recent FCC 20 billion dollar spectrum auction is anticipated to result in major new rural broadband roll-outs by major telcos, soon.  

June 2008, Reviewed grants for the Corporation for National and Community Service www.cns.gov  for their Higher Education and Social Media Service Learning RFP. Cost savings for online training, webinars, and telework are compelling many federal agencies, including CNS, to seek out innovations ways to engage citizens in online learning related to providing community service. The advantages for rural learners are obvious. Note that Montana has the fifth highest level of participation in community service nationally, 38%.  Obama’s intent is to quadruple the size of CNS and roll out new programs to engage all Americans in community service, online and offline, as evidenced by the “Service Nation” and “Be the Change” initiatives at http://bethechange.org

July 2008, Discussed the Fall 2008 launch of an Online Ecommerce Institute with Idaho State University's College of Technology Workforce Training Office regarding creating online webinars and courses. Having taught online courses for UMW from 1988-1998 – and continuing to teach online for three out-of-state universities, I’m able to quickly generate online courses customized for rural learners of all ages. For Example: USDA funded Lone Eagle to create a beginning Ecommerce course at http://lone-eagles.com/ecom.htm

July 17th, 2008 , Salt Lake City: Presented for the FCC Indian Training Institute conference www.fcc.gov/indians on creating a broadband training best practices clearinghouse. The FCC has agree to host Lone Eagle Resources at this site as the beginnings of a rural best practices clearinghouse. Lone Eagle resource handouts for Native Youth E-entrepreneurship are http://lone-eagles.com/fcc2008.htm and Lone Eagle Rural Innovation Resources http://lone-eagles.com/future-proofing.htm  Working with youth needs to be central to such an effort and the opportunity is to grow an E-entrepreneurial culture in under five years. For half the global population, like that of most Native American communities, the average age is under 20 years old; The first digital generation. The Montana Indian Business Alliance is planning a Native Youth Entrepreneurship conference for April, 2009. www.mibaonline.org

March 2008, Tokyo: Presented on Global ICT (broadband) best practices for 21 nations. The U.S. ranks 17th in rural broadband. The Lone Eagle whitepaper presented Montana Ecommerce Case Studies.  The formal whitepaper including Montanan innovations is at http://lone-eagles.com/social-engineering.htm Conference details are at http://lone-eagles.com/tokyo-report.htm

Montana Ecommerce Successes:

There are hundreds of examples like these, and there could easily be thousands. The facts suggest careful examination of what ecommerce opportunities exist for average Montanans.

1. 86% of all new jobs come from micro-enterprises with under 12 employees
2. Montana has more micro-enterprises than any other state - one in seven Montanan homes run some kind of home business
3. Online shopping is growing 20% per year, and micro-enterprises are growing at the same rate.
4. Montana has more rural broadband than most rural states, with new technologies promising greater access in the short term.
5. Globally, ecommerce is booming, particularly in Europe where mobile phones will be used to purchase $88 billion in goods and services this year.

1. In Plentywood a fellow inherited a junked car lot and began selling used car parts on eBay - he made $200,000 and is now brokering parts from other such "lots."

2. In Malta, Roy Martinez averages over $10,000/month selling Western replicas related to Clint Eastwood Westerns: http://spaghettiwesternreplicas.com/

3. In Browning, Ron Ridesatthedoor sells alfalfa as bunny food www.sunroadsfarmory.com to supplement his farm income. He was elected commissioner of Glacier county and created his own wireless Internet business, too.

4.In Wolfpoint, Mr. Trinder created www.nativeamericanjobs.com four years ago, he now averages $4000/month

5. In New Mexico, Navajo youth created http://lickitysplitchocolate.com/ and received 44,000 orders just last month, as an example of the level of success the Web can offer to good products and entrepreneurs with vision.

6. After Lone Eagle train-the-trainers sessions in Wolfpoint, MT, Fall 2007, for the Fort Peck community ecommerce incubator grant http://lone-eagles.com/fort-peck.htm , local trainers taught youth how to create their own free ecommerce pages complete with affiliate programs with Amazon.com and Walmart which return commissions of 10-17% for items purchased online. See "Rez Bread" at http://snarf2000.tripod.com   Web-raisings were held where everyone creates a free ecommerce site in less than an hour.

Web-Raising events have been conducted in multiple communities and for MT's SBDC directors.  More Montanan successes are at http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce-successes.htm     and at  http://lone-eagles.com/montana-successes.htm 

Training Trainers, and Coaching Communities,

Frank Odasz
Lone Eagle Consulting

PS:  Congrats on your advocacy for mental health for Vets!  Please also consider Federal telework jobs for Vets.