FairPoint Communications, Inc, the local broadband provider, engaged VE to develop a comprehensive community economic development (CED) initiative to support sustainable growth of the economies of 40 counties in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. FairPoint made a multi-year commitment to this project, called Connect NNE.
In this effort VE worked with Connect NNE to develop a customer identification and mapping application that enabled the provider to identify over 30,000 potential broadband clients. This information supported the design of the distribution network to expand access to broadband. Through Connect NNE, VE also trained regional leaders and community economic development practitioners in the principles and tools associated with regionally focused, asset-based economic development.
VE developed an analysis of broadband literacy across the 40 counties of Northern New England. This analysis helped community and business leaders understand the economic imperative of broadband services, changing the way the community worked, lived, governed, learned and shared resources across their region and the world.
The analysis also led to improved investments in broadband infrastructure and user adoption, including:
- The private sector provided over $300 million in broadband infrastructure expansion.
- New Hampshire, Maine and Southeastern Vermont incorporated broadband strategies into their CEDS, which led to over $200 million in statewide ARRA Broadband Grants across Northern New England.
Connect NNE led the development of a three-state Economic Scenario Model, a user friendly tool for measuring economic regions within and across state boundaries and comparing the economic impact of competing projects. The Economic Scenario Model is a key tool in the implementation of VE asset based economic development initiatives. It informs the S.M.A.R.T. goals and allows for effect review of strategic ideas.
Connect NNE also enabled the launch of a statewide initiative called Mobilize Maine, which encompassed the entire state formed around seven EDA recognized economic districts. NADO recognized Mobilize Maine as a model for regional economic development and its development of a regional CEDS that rolled up into a statewide CEDS.