Boswell plan aims to bridge technology gap

Kili Schwantes

Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, visited Ames Tuesday at the ISU Applied Sciences Complex to get suggestions from the community for his “Rural Technology Development Plan” in hopes of bridging the technological gap between rural and urban areas.”The goal here is to reach out to those left behind and make things more accessible,” Boswell said. “Where there is an oasis of information like we have in this community, it would be foolish not to seek it.”Boswell’s four main objectives are to provide funding to educate the current and future work force for high technological-based employment; expand broadband and high-speed Internet access in rural Iowa; provide incentives for high technological business to be established in rural areas; and to create a clearinghouse coordinating rural technology programs.Boswell said because there is currently a $5.6 trillion surplus at the national level, financing is not a major concern.The director of the Iowa Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Willem Bakker, said existing legislation would help implement Boswell’s plan. “Bill 524 would result in an addition of funds that would make the digital divide less onerous,” he said. “The commerce department has been directed to evaluate a way of bringing e-business technology to small rural businesses.”Bakker said the Small Business Development Centers, the Center for Industrial Research and Services and the Institute for Physical Research and Technology at Iowa State created a partnership promoting technological integration.Boswell emphasized the importance of education in achieving the goals of his plan. “We want to attract our best students to teach our children,” he said. “Would we want any less?” Anita Williams, procurement specialist at ISU extension, said a program called Partners in Economic Programs gives 250 inner city Des Moines students computers to learn how to use the Internet to do research and improve learning in the classroom.”Sometimes you think your options are limited because of what you see,” she said.Boswell said he wants the programs to benefit children in Iowa.”We have a lot of great kids,” he said. “I have a lot of expectations, and I think we have to do the best we can to provide.”