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Information Technology Training and Employment Program for Rural Communities Presented by Mel Ustad


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Title: Information Technology Training and Employment Program for Rural Communities Presented by Mel Ustad

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

Rural Information Technology Employment (RITE)
  • National Science Foundation Information
    Technology Research/Workforce Development Project
  • Objective
  • Develop and test a model IT education/training/eco
    nomic development program for rural communities
    utilizing distance education and
    telecommunications technologies for education and
    employment of IT workers.

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

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

  • 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.

Findings Continued
  • Infrastructure is adequate in most rural Midwest
  • 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
  • Facilitating a change in the IT business culture
    and structure is difficult.

New Initiatives
  • RITE Team AssociationOrganized by participants
    to market IT skills.
  • Non-Profit Membership organization RITE Link
  • Communities interested in IT based economic

RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI)Something Was Still
  • The RITE-Team Association to date has had limited
  • 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

RITE Resource, Inc. (RRI)Our Mission
  • Provide clients world-class e-Business
    consulting, application development and hosting
  • 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

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)

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

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
  • Existing facilities used in many communities.
  • Low infrastructure costs.

University Research and Technology Entrepreneurs
  • N2TEC partnership links university research and
    technology entrepreneurs to rural communities to
    identify and explore IT and technology based
  • Internet based venture presentations by
    technology entrepreneurs
  • Expose rural communities to technology based
  • Provides university based technology
    entrepreneurs to additional funding and support

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

K-12 Project Activities
  • TechTownIT use and career exploration website
    lesson plans for elementary school students
  • CyberSpace CampInternet based summer and after
    school program that allows students to explore IT
    advances, their community and IT entrepreneurship

Additional Information
  • Mel Ustad
  • Principal Investigator
  • Associate Dean of Research
  • University of South Dakota
  • Vermillion, SD 57069
  • 605-677-5370
  • Project Website