TROY professor’s book examines the impact of the information age on rural economic development

Posted: Thursday, 13 August 2009

TROY—A new book by a Troy University faculty member is designed to help rural communities take economic advantage of opportunities provided by modern technology, specifically broadband telecommunications.

The book, “Digital Deliverance: Dragging Rural America, Kicking and Screaming, into the Information Economy” was written by Dr. Judson Edwards, Director of the Center for International Business at Troy University. It is published by University Press of America.

“This book was written as a guide for economic developers and state policymakers who want to develop strategies for utilizing broadband in rural areas,” Edwards said. “It’s intended as a practical guide for decision making.”

Edwards believes leaders in rural communities need to understand that broadband access by itself will not yield immediate economic dividends. He studied the economic development efforts of four distinct communities to reach his conclusions.”

“They (rural communities) aren’t going to be successful, just because broadband access is there,” Edwards said. “It’s like an industrial park. A lot of communities have them and some are filled with strong industries while others are empty. Policymakers at the federal and state level need to identify the communities who have potential to take advantage of broadband.”

The communities who refocus development efforts from simply recruiting industry to enhancing quality of life will be the winners in the information age, Edwards concludes.

“Access to technology has been viewed as a savior for rural America because it allows people to live in rural areas and still be connected,” he said. “People can live anywhere, but do they want to? The focus should be on improving livability.”

Dr. Edwards said he hopes his book is timely given the availability of federal stimulus monies through the Recovery Act Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which is currently accepting applications for grant funding.

Edwards is a 1996 graduate of Troy University, with a baccalaureate degree in economics/social science—geography. He received master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi. He joined the Troy University faculty in 2007.

Judson

Dr. Judson Edwards