Case Study 2

Lauderdale County Educational Technology Initiative

The Challenge:

The project's purpose is to expand technology in the county for educational and economic development purposes. One of the key findings was that rural economies are at risk due to the inability of the local school system to produce a new workforce capable of meeting the new technology requirements of their existing local industries. A key local employer in Lauderdale was within 8-12 years of sunsetting its workforce due to age attrition. Their plant had undergone significant modernization and they were having difficulty finding interested and skilled replacement workers for their aging workforce. Additionally, another key finding was that 47% of K-12 homes have never seen a broadband connection at home and 27% of the K-12 homes did not own a personal computer.

Our Partners:

We are working in direct partnership with the Lauderdale County Board of Education who has launched an ambitious 1:1 laptop initiative in the 6-8th grades.  We started in June 2007 with a comprehensive survey of the county, which resulted in a number of key findings.

The cTechnology Approach:

A team from Lauderdale County and cTechnology went to corporate headquarters and discussed the situation with corporate officials and business owners in order to understand their the necessary and critical job skills they were looking for and requiring in order to fill jobs. In other words, we wanted to directly understand how we should prepare students for local jobs and equip them with the right skills. These finding led to our first initiative to directly link the requirements of the local industry to the K-12 system.

The Result:

The K-12 schools have begun a 5-year track to introduce career awareness and curriculum track that would provide local companies with a fresh crop of aware and skilled young people that see a career opportunity in the digital print/media operations field.

The Governor kicked off his rural economic Round Table in Ripley last year due to these efforts. (See video below of the kickoff and the Governor's tour of the plant).

Paul teaching studentsOur next phase is to create a model of community economic jumpstart that bridges the home, K-12, and economic development through local and remote, online knowledge worker job creation, and ultimately entrepreneurialism.  We believe rural America can become a significant force for outsourced knowledge workers and a new growth area for the tech economy.

Development District Partnership

We are now partnered with the federal development districts in west TN to assist them in creating a cohesive regional approach to be used by regional carriers for their NTIA/RUS stimulus applications.  This will help present a strong cohesive approach to the "soft" side of the grant in adoption, education, healthcare, economic development, and other focused outcomes. We hope to see west TN win the prize in the broadband stimulus packages to be awarded this year!