I'm here for Wiregrass, and we just want to thank you for bringing this up and making it a top priority for the community [looking at Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter] and the Industrial Authority....
It's definitely a priority for us.... Only 14% of our citizens have a college degree and we need 70% to have a college degree within ten years. To be able to accomplish that we'd better have
the right schools that have these students here. We want them to come here we want them to go to school and graduate and stay here with the jobs. And to do that we've got to have the infrastructure in place to help us accomplish that.
We already have a lot of things we do like web hosting and video conferencing. But we can only do it on a limited scale with our eleven counties and our K-12 schools and VSU. Having this community-wide would really enhance those type programs that we do. With the health science building and 40% of our students in health, we can't... High school students, for instance, can't go to clinicals in the hospital, but we could do it through video conference and live lectures if we had the capacity. Right now that's not really possible.
And as a community leader and a community citizen I know it would help the quality of life for everybody. And I want my children to stay here [looking at Slaughter] you know, and my grandchildren, so we want to make sure the jobs are here.
Ain't all that the truth.
Then she talked about a proposed School of Engineering and Science, and said words that were music to my ears:
My ultimate goal in five years is to be a center of excellence in broadband and wireless for the National Science Foundation. If you accomplish a center of excellence for the National Science Foundation it brings in tens of millions of dollars to your region, because you're the subject matter expert.
It's a scary thing to start. We're taking that on because we want to be the best in the nation. We've talked to the service providers; we have the industries with us as partners; and they tell (not locally; I'm talking about nationwide) 80% of the current landlines has to be retrained to wireless; the employees. There's really nowhere to do that unless they do it internally. We want them to come here. We already have one... that actually is helping us with a million dollars towards equipment.... And they are looking at doing a training center here because we're doing this.
And we want to take it even further. If we can accomplish this, it's going to be huge. It could change the face of our community and that's our ultimate goal....
And for our community to have this as a top priority [looks at Slaughter] to be wireless will be critical for us, because these companies won't come here without these levels.
Somebody with a real-world goal and some understanding of what it would take! Somebody who dares to set a big goal without saying "we'll never be Austin or "we'll never be Silicon Valley!"
Roy Copeland re-emphasized it:
Well, the Chairman [referring to Slaughter] has said that this is a top priority, and we're on board with that.
Next: VSU! See next post.