Long a leader in community engagement and downtown revitalization, Independence, a city of about 10,000 located in the fertile Willamette Valley, built out its own fiber-to-the-home broadband system with its neighbor, Monmouth, in 2007. Then in 2015 the city embarked on an effort to leverage its fiber broadband network to become an interface between urban technology and rural agriculture.
Successes have included the creation of a popular series of agriculture tech meetups, development of a community makerspace, several ag-tech and smart city pilot projects, and several new STEM education programs targeted at K-12 students and English language learners. It’s all part of a plan to empower technologists and the region’s agricultural sector at once, and include the entire community — which is roughly 40% Latinx and 30% under the age of 18 — in the process.
The Rural Edge series
At CORI, we have a saying: once you’ve seen one rural community, you’ve seen one rural community. America’s small towns are diverse and dynamic, and through our work with our Rural Innovation Network, we have the privilege of working in depth with 20 communities building digital economy ecosystems. To highlight these incredible places, Siegel Family Endowment and the Walmart Foundation provided funding for us to create video case studies highlighting our communities’ efforts.
Check out previous installments in the series:
- Waterville, Maine
- Springfield, Vermont
- Durango, Colorado
- Wilson, North Carolina
- Cape Girardeau, Missouri