Community-based Technology Initiative Launched In Milledgeville, Ga.

MILLEDGEVILLE, GA. — A new initiative to establish Milledgeville as a center for technology-based jobs in the knowledge economy has received funding, thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Milledgeville Community Connections: Digital Bridges…Bringing People Together will explore how a broadband network can improve residents’ lives at home and at work when Milledgeville launches its citywide network in 2009.

“Milledgeville leaders recognize that citizens’ use of digital technologies will be the key to moving Milledgeville/Baldwin County from an economy based on state jobs to a workforce that is competitive,” said Beverly Blake, Knight Program Director for Columbus, Macon and Milledgeville.

The Digital Innovation Group housed at Georgia College & State University will facilitate Digital Bridges. But the community will identify local challenges and match them with the digital technologies to address them, whether they are in healthcare, education, government or other areas.

The project will transform Milledgeville into a community-ownership model for universal broadband access that may be adapted for other Knight communities.

“It is indeed exciting that Knight’s smallest community has the opportunity to lead the charge in creating a community ownership model for universal broadband access,” said Blake.

Georgia College President Dorothy Leland is pleased with the university’s role in the initiative.

“Knowledge and information from across the globe that is readily accessible through the Internet is a key to our community’s education and economic growth,” Leland said. “I am pleased that Georgia College will be able to help connect our community to the world through this exciting and innovative project.”

Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley help set the stage for creating the city’s wireless community in 2006 when the city received a $862,500 Georgia One grant to establish the broadband network.

“The Knight Grant is a wonderful addition to the city’s efforts to bring wireless technology to serve our families and students and improve the quality of life for our citizens,” Bentley said.  “Connecting our citizens and our community with innovative technology will allow Milledgeville to prosper and grow.”

The Knight Foundation, established in 1950, supported Milledgeville’s wireless efforts with a $15,000 grant in 2007 as part of its goal to bring broadband access to all 26 Knight communities. As a result, Milledgeville is scheduled to begin operation of its Wi-Max network by fall 2009.  The Akron-based Knight Center for Digital Excellence, which provides pro-bono consultants to help communities create universal access, will lend expertise to this new effort.

 “This is the community’s opportunity to experiment with means of improving the quality of their professional and personal lives through the use of technology innovation,” Digital Innovation Director Jim Wolfgang said.

Digital Bridges also will include a Knight Digital Community Center -- a neighborhood facility for training, sharing, exploration and support, Wolfgang said.

University faculty and local teachers will serve as resource leaders and will offer free training, professional development and guidance to small business.

“Milledgeville has a chance to build a stronger community enhanced by exciting and new technology-based activities,” Wolfgang said.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

Related Headline: 

 

4/20/2011 Digital Bridges names Heather Holder director http://infox.gcsu.edu/node/586

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.