Cool & Connected: Bridging the Broadband Gap

Many rural communities are actively seeking new opportunities to drive economic growth but are restrained by inadequate broadband access. Businesses need fast and reliable connection speeds to process payments and orders, participate in online commerce, and stay competitive in an increasingly tech-oriented economy. Anchor institutions such as schools and hospitals are unable to move and manage information quickly and provide public services as efficiently as possible. Helping small communities bridge the broadband gap is critical to strengthening rural America's economy.

To help rural communities get up to speed, Smart Growth America is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Appalachian Regional Commission on Cool & Connected, a technical assistance program to help rural communities find new economic opportunities by providing planning assistance for sustainable downtown development and investments in reliable, high-speed internet access.

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Alex Hutchinson, AICP

Alex Hutchinson is an economic and community development specialist for Smart Growth America. He works across programs at the intersection of policy and hands-on community level practice. Previously, Hutchinson was an economic development officer for the Baltimore Development Corporation, where he focused on public-private partnerships related to downtown redevelopment, neighborhood planning, workforce housing tax credits, adaptive reuse, brownfield remediation, mixed-use development, TOD, and assistance to small businesses impacted by the civil unrest of 2015. Hutchinson has also lived and worked in Brazil and Colombia where he focused on transportation planning and international development. He received his master's degree in community planning from the University of Maryland's Urban Studies and Planning Program with a concentration in economic development and transportation.