The National e-Commerce Extension Initiative
eNews: The National e-Commerce Extension Initiative

Educational Resource Grant Opportunities for 2011

The Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC), in partnership with NIFA/USDA and the Regional Rural Development Centers, continues to offer funding for its National e-Commerce Extension Initiative competitive grants program. Applications are due for Wednesday October 26th, 2011. Download the full RFP.

Check out updated Connection Communities module

An updated version of Connecting Communities is now available at the Learning Center section of the Web site. This module, previously known as Connecting Rural Communities, features important content updates and a change in looks. Check it out here.

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Related Information

Penn State study says high technology, not low taxes, may improve a state's economy

A study conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that high technology, not low taxes, may drive states' economic growth. Results show that "policies that promoted the use of high technology and entrepreneurship were significantly correlated with job creation and economic growth." Read more here.

FCC updates rural broadband strategy

The Federal Communications Commission released an update to the comprehensive rural broadband strategy included in the 2008 Farm Bill, whose objectives include meeting the demand for affordable high quality broadband services in rural communities. The report focuses on key actions at the Commission, USDA Rural Utilities Service and the Dept. of Commerce NTIA. Read the full report here.

Scholars examine expanding broadband in rural areas

The Center for Rural Strategies conducted a roundtable with four leading experts regarding broadband investment in the U.S., especially in rural regions. Among some of the major conclusions of the roundtable perhaps the most important one is that "while broadband will not bring immediate economic transformation to rural America, region that lack broadband will be crippled." Read the full report here.

Massachusetts towns (broad)band together

An interesting article that appeared on the Daily Yonder showcased several communities getting together in rural Western Massachusetts to deliver internet service to its residents. The initiative, called WiredWest, is an alternative to the popular public-private partnerships as a multi-town or multi-jurisdiction coalition builds broadband networks and own them collectively. Interested? Read more here.

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SRDC e-Commerce Grant Recipients: In Their Own Words

Montgomery County, Tenn., was declared one of the top 10 places to start a business, and through the National e-Commerce Extension Initiative Grant, the University of Tennessee Extension has been on task to assist with the process.

"This grant was the whipped cream on a special ice cream sundae of a program we call The Gathering, which received the Tennessee Rural Development Committee Award," said Martha Pile, TN Extension FCS Agent.

The Gathering, which focused on e-commerce training and tours for interested entrepreneurs, included 4,997 direct contacts, with artisans comprising one-third of the contacts. It gave Extension and other program partners the opportunity to take a base e-commerce curriculum, offer hands-on experiences and share their expertise. Seven counties hosted Gathering sessions, with good participation in the trainings.

"As Extension Agents, we created valuable partnerships," Pile said. "Using a designated segment of an e-commerce curriculum each time, the partnerships within our communities helped teach and implement the program."

One satisfied participant reported that the training helped him create a Web site and upload videos, tasks he never thought he'd be able to do. Another client reported that by just learning to use e-mail, she can now add her e-mail address to her business card without being intimidated. Others gained important skills and additional knowledge that will help their businesses succeed.

"E-commerce also offers the opportunity to expand business while never leaving home," said another satisfied participant.

In addition, the program's popular newsletter, "Sustainability Makes Cents," is e-mailed to more than 1,700 people and posted on the Web site, which reduces the mailing costs as only 150 clients without connectivity receive it in their mailboxes. The newsletter targets entrepreneurs, key decision makers, coalition members and other interested people. Through this sustainable news venue and through a Web site created by a volunteer with his own e-business, everyone has equal access to information and opportunities.

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eXtension Entrepreneurship Webinar Series

Food Safety for Farmers Market Vendors
April 11, 2013
Londa Nwadike, University of Vermont Extension Food Safety Specialist

Tracking Sales to Learn What Customers Really Think
May 9, 2013
Mary Peabody, UVM Extension

Are you a Supermarket Vendor or a Super Market Vendor?
June 13, 2013
Ginger Myers, UMD Extension Marketing Specialist

All webinars will air monthly on the second Thursday at 2 p.m. (ET); 1p.m. (CT); noon (MT); 11a.m. (PT). No pre-registration is required and there is no fee to participate. About 10 minutes prior to the start time simply go the Adobe Connect Pro meeting room at . You will be presented with a login screen that has an "Enter as Guest" option. Enter your full name then click "Enter Room" to join the conference. You will be able to hear the audio directly from your computer’s speakers.

For more information and archives on the Webinar Series, please visit our Webinar page.