Governor Ernie Fletcher Unveils Prescription for Innovation: Delivering Technology to Expand Opportunities in Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Thursday, October 07, 2004  
Contact Information:  Kim Phelps

ConnectKentucky to Lead Improvements in Broadband Access and Computer Use

October 7, 2004, Owensboro, KY – Governor Ernie Fletcher unveiled today his “Prescription for Innovation: Delivering Broadband Technology for a 21st Century Kentucky,” that will provide broadband (high-speed Internet) access to all Kentuckians and by 2007. The announcement was made at the 75th Annual Kentucky League of Cities Convention held at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Owensboro.

Governor Fletcher’s Prescription for Innovation is a comprehensive broadband deployment and adoption plan that will leverage state, federal and private investment to blanket Kentucky with high-speed Internet access. The initiative will encourage citizen use of computers and the Internet, and provide every Kentucky community with an online presence for improving citizen services and promoting economic development.

The Governor’s initiative will produce the most sophisticated telecommunications inventory map in the nation, using advanced GIS mapping technology and grassroots data collection. The maps will not only illustrate service gaps, but will serve as an economic development resource for communities to illustrate existing infrastructure for locating companies. Additionally, the initiative will mobilize local leadership teams in each community and produce community-specific implementation plans to empower local leaders and increase citizen demand for expanding broadband technology.

Kentucky ranks 44th in the proportion of high-tech businesses; 45th in residential computer use; and 43rd in residential Internet use in comparison to neighboring states.

Governor Fletcher remarked, "There is an increasingly large gap between those who have technology and those who do not. Kentucky remains on the wrong side of this digital divide. While Internet access on its own is not a silver bullet solution for prosperity, adequate access to the global marketplace through broadband infrastructure enables knowledge-based economic development and has the ability to enhance the lives of our citizens and businesses. The future of our economy depends on our success and we owe it to our children to deliver."

ConnectKentucky will lead this grassroots initiative, bringing together community leaders and citizens to identify applications and support the build-out of infrastructure necessary to provide better government services, improved educational opportunities, healthcare access and an expanded marketplace for local businesses. Charged with leading the initiative is ConnectKentucky Chairman, retired Ashland Inc. Chairman and CEO John Hall, along with Co-Chairs, Commerce Cabinet Secretary Jim Host, and Governor’s Office for Local Development Commissioner Darrell Brock.

Based on recently published studies*, it is estimated that full-scale broadband deployment could create 14,000 jobs and add more than $5 billion to the Gross State Product (GSP) in Kentucky.

About ConnectKentucky:

ConnectKentucky is a technology-based economic development alliance which has gained national acclaim as a “best-practice” in new economy strategies, recognized in June 2004 as a finalist for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s “Excellence in Innovation” award.