CSU and EDA announce a planning grant for enhancing broadband in rural Colorado through CSU’s Extension offices

The Economic Development Administration awarded $301,030 to the Colorado State University System for a planning grant to promote and enhance economic development in rural Colorado. The CSU System is using the planning grant to catalyze how Extension Services from a land-grant university will support rural communities in new and better ways, more directly and more responsively, providing a new definition of how a land-grant university may serve its state in the 21st century. 

“Providing more and better support to rural Colorado is a high priority of the CSU System,” said Patrick Burns, leader of the System’s Broadband Initiative. “I and my team working on the System’s broadband initiative are extremely dedicated to engaging with rural Colorado sites through the Extension offices to help them with their efforts to secure the best next-generation, high-speed broadband needed in this modern era.”

CSU will add and redirect resources using its Extension offices to deliver new, high-quality content to rural Colorado to promote local economic development, enhance education, promote better health care, and support rural communities in numerous other ways.  

CSU Extension will work with its Extension offices to define and coordinate content with local constituents to establish a statewide virtual classroom with an instructor/discussion leader at any rural site, enabled by high-quality broadband connectivity. Ensuring rural communities can participate fully in these new initiatives will require improved internet connectivity/broadband in many rural areas. Thus, the grant will be used for two main purposes: 1) to develop and bring content directly into rural communities, and 2) to work with local communities to enhance broadband where needed to access such content. 

Expanded and enhanced content will be delivered both synchronously and asynchronously, and include programming in the following areas, among others: 

  • A nursing program class.
  • STEM classes and workshops. 
  • Classes and workshops on procedures and stratagems to develop and enhance small businesses.  
  • Local food processing for meat and agriculture.
  • Food safety. 
  • Strategies for drought resistance. 
  • Fire resistance and suppression. 
  • Current developments in precision agriculture. 
  • The new, multi-disciplinary Western Ranch Management and Ecosystem Stewardship program. 
  • Natural Resource Tourism. 
  • Modern methods and the science of optimal breeding techniques for livestock. 
  • Balanced discussions of statewide ballot initiatives. 

The CSU System has hired broadband consultant NEO Connect to address broadband needs in rural communities.  

The CSU System and NEO Connect will work together directly with small, rural communities to assist them in their applications for new federal broadband grants, including: 

  • Convening discussions about CSU and Neo serving as the principal in preparing proposals for broadband funding at both the state and federal levels. 
  • Defining and convening planning groups through the Extension offices in select rural communities to identify and define what is needed for broadband proposal. 
  • Having Neo and its technical consultant develop preliminary broadband designs and costs for the community suitable for submission in proposals. 
  • Drafting and submitting the proposal. 
  • Also, through its three campuses and Spur, delivering content to rural Colorado to support economic development activities through the CSU Extension offices, including providing a statewide, distributed virtual classroom to rural Colorado including: education, training, certificates, workshops, the results of relevant research, and additional information pertinent to and defined by rural Colorado.  

Additionally, the CSU System will piggy-back by invitation onto broadband initiatives in which NEO Connect is already engaged to enhance those projects with content delivery, thereby avoiding duplication of effort. 

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. Learn more at eda.gov.

About the CSU System

Colorado State University System encompasses three distinct universities: CSU, a leading public research university and the state’s only land-grant institution, located in Fort Collins; CSU Pueblo, a regional-serving campus and federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution; and CSU Global, the nation’s first fully accredited public online university. The CSU System’s institutions serve nearly 60,000 students annually. Learn more about the CSU System and its institutions, projects, and partnerships at csusystem.edu.