Broadband & Economic Development Economic development is the act, implementation or study of policies, strategies and techniques to improve the economy. Broadband impacts the economy and economic development strategies, especially small business and workforce development. Recommendations Recommendation 1: Incorporate broadband into the Certified Work Ready Communities Initiative ED1.1: Include broadband as an indicator in the Certified Work Ready Community initiative. Partner with the N.C. Chamber of Commerce and other workforce development partners to incorporate broadband into the existing Certified Work Ready Communities program. ED1.2: Advertise certified communities to providers as good areas for providers to invest and/or expand broadband infrastructure. Recommendation 2: Launch a state-supported campaign to brand the state (internally and externally) as a national digital leader ED2.1: The N.C. Department of Infrastructure Development should collaborate with partners such as the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Economic Development Partnership, N.C.Chamber of Commerce, N.C. Technology Association and other stakeholders to develop a campaign to brand the state internally and externally as a leader in the creation and use of next-generation technologies. Recommendation 3: Leverage state agencies' existing small business and workforce development tools ED3.1: Catalogue, leverage and build upon existing small business support organizations’ current efforts to improve small businesses’ broadband utilization. The N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office should partner with other state agencies, local governments, nonprofits and N.C. technology companies to create a database or portal of existing efforts to improve broadband utilization and digital literacy among small businesses and individual citizens. ED3.2: Leverage and build upon existing workforce education and training. In collaboration with the N.C. Community College System, the N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office should leverage and build upon existing workforce development education and training for digital literacy, computer and technology skills and various subjects via in-person and distance learning formats offered through the N.C. Community College System. In collaboration with other workforce development agencies, the N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office should work with the N.C. Community College System to ensure that partnerships are established with N.C. companies to prepare potential employees and job applicants for tech-based jobs. ED3.3: Ensure that N.C. Works Career Centers’ employees have adequate tools and training to assist customers with digital literacy needs. The N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office and other stakeholders should collaborate with the N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions to ensure that N.C. Works Career Centers have the necessary tools and training for their employees to adequately provide digital literacy training to incoming job-seekers. ED3.4: Leverage the N.C. Works portal, and partner with the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division and Division of Employment Security to reach citizens in need of digital literacy skills with training opportunities. Recommendation 4: Encourage communities to include broadband in their economic development plans ED4.1: Encourage N.C. communities to include broadband in regional strategic planning like comprehensive economic development strategy plans. Comprehensive economic development strategy plans are “strategy-driven plans for regional economic development” that are required to be updated every five years by the U.S. Economic Development Administration for regions that wish to qualify for EDA assistance under its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. CEDS plans are also a prerequisite for regions to receive the Economic Development District designation. Including strategies to increase broadband availability, adoption and use in regional CEDS plans will encourage regional focus and collaboration on increasing broadband availability, adoption and use. ED4.2: Encourage N.C. communities to include broadband in their local planning efforts. Often, communities create goals for themselves through strategic plans, comprehensive plans and visioning documents and sessions. The N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office should collaborate with other stakeholders such as the N.C. Department of Commerce, Rural Center, other stakeholder organizations and key community leaders such as school superintendents and secondary educational institutions’ leaders to assist communities as they develop their plans. In this collaboration, the N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office should provide strategies to increase broadband deployment, adoption, and use as an economic development tool.