The Michigan Rural Council, in partnership with Connect Michigan and the Microenterprise Network of Michigan has been working on a grant project encouraging the adoption of broadband and related technology by rural small businesses in Michigan.

A Bright Side episode was developed to help highlight effective uses of broadband for rural microbusinesses, advocate for increased adoption and, consequentially, increases demand for broadband from businesses across the state. Watch it here!

Our four pilot communities for the project were Barry County, Clare County, St. Clair County and the Village of Port Sanilac. We provided each of them with a full-day tailored training aimed at creating a sustainable taskforce of local volunteers dedicated to providing one-on-one support to entrepreneurs and business-owners regarding broadband adoption and technology use.  We also developed a Broadband Taskforce Development toolkit to assist these rural communities with sustainable tools to support and promote rural microbusiness broadband adoption.We will be working to compile data from participants and produce a report examining the dynamic effects of increasing adoption, including the economic impact of rural technology improvement as the communities further pursue their action plans. This report will have important policy implications given the case-study models for replication, and will be communicated with Michigan policymakers and rural advocates across the country.

Technology and Small Business Lunch and Learn
Technology and Small Business Lunch and Learn

On June 4th, we hosted a Technology and Small Business Lunch and Learn event in the Mackinac Room of the Anderson House Office Building in Lansing. The event was a huge success, and drew in over 150 people, with 50 legislative offices represented. We had Representatives Aric Nesbitt and Kevin Daley kick things off discussing their take on technology use and small businesses, followed by success stories of three business owners (Klever Innovations, Yarn Garden, and PixelVine Studios), the community perspective as told by Bonnie Hildreth of the Barry Community Foundation, and finally the national perspective provided by Raquel Noriega, who is Connected Nation‘s Director of Public Policy. This event and the continued work with the project were made possible by five generous sponsors: Frontier, the Telecom Association of Michigan, MITA, CenturyLink, and the Michigan Cable Telecom Association.

The aforementioned toolkit has been expanded to incorporate the tales of our involved communities, and now serves as a valuable resource for communities looking to support broadband and technology adoption as well as any entrepreneurs and small business owners looking for a starting point in using the web to benefit their business’s development and growth.

Check out our toolkit – Small Business Technology Taskforce Toolkit (PDF)

Toolkit Appendices (Word Doc)

    • The resources around a diverse range of broadband-enabled technologies on pages 14-29 of the Toolkit should prove extremely helpful for small businesses!
    • For communities looking to create their own Technology Taskforce, the toolkit appendices linked to above are in Word format, ready for editing.


For more information about the Small Business Technology Taskforce project, contact MNM Coordinator Keith Lambert.