Land O’Lakes Inc. and the Center on Rural Innovation announced the launch of the first American Connection Community in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Under the new joint project, Aberdeen will be the first of a set of rural communities to benefit from several months of strategic planning and engagement through CORI’s Rural Innovation Initiative to help them create innovation hubs, assist with applications for state and federal funding and gain access to digital skills and tools.
CORI will also educate, train and assist local residents in learning digital skills necessary to compete in today’s employment landscape and gain access to jobs in their hometowns. The initiative, with Aberdeen as its first pilot community, aims to unlock the potential of broadband access in rural communities, and to bring economic prosperity and high-skilled jobs to reinvigorate rural communities.
“We know how critical the need for broadband access is and how mentorship and training programs have measurable, positive impacts for skill-building and job growth in local communities,” said Tina May, vice president of rural services for Land O’Lakes, Inc. “American Connection Communities, starting in Aberdeen, will demonstrate for leaders and policymakers how new, effective and transformational models for rural development can be implemented and scaled at the state and national level.”
The American Connection Communities location in Aberdeen is jointly funded by Land O’Lakes and CoBank, a founding member and dedicated partner of the American Connection Project (ACP) Policy Coalition.
The ACP has demonstrated success across rural communities nationwide through the opening of more than 3,000 free, public Wi-Fi locations and the creation of the American Connection Corps, to name a few. This next endeavor under the ACP umbrella will expand opportunities for direct investments in rural communities and support rural economic development via a dynamic, high-return technical assistance program that can be replicated at the national level.
Land O’Lakes and CORI plan to expand American Connection Communities in other locations across the U.S. in the coming months.