Sunday, October 28, 2012

Economic Development Officials Think Broadband Helps

It is not a surprise that economic development executives think broadband helps their local economies. That is not too surprising. Most people probably think so, as well. It is probably quite accurate to say that broadband doesn't hurt. What really is hard to say is how much it helps. 

Consultant Craig Settles conducted a survey in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) about what 365 economic development professionals think about broadband. The survey was sent to 7,000, so an order of magnitude more officials declined to say whaqt they thought. 

The respondents clearly see upside to broadband, both wireless and fixed. The problem always is that correlation is not causation, and it is impossible to analytically separate all the other factors that contribute to economic growth, from the particular impact of broadband. 

You might say broadband is "hygenic," a precondition for business decisions, but not a sufficient economic driver, on its own. As clean water, waste disposal, air service, rail connections and electricity are likewise necessary, so is broadband. But electricity does not "cause" economic development.

The lack of electricity clearly inhibits potential development, but the converse is not true: electricity does not, by itself, cause development to occur. 

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