• UWA and AT&T partner for first Alabama Summit on Rural Technology set for April 13

    Posted: March 20, 2018

    Author: Public Relations

    The University of West Alabama has joined with AT&T to announce the slate of speakers and featured panelists for the Alabama Summit on Rural Technology, set for April 13 on the UWA campus. The event features a broad slate of experts who bring unique perspectives to address rural Alabama’s need for an enhanced technology infrastructure.

    Event coordinators expect the program and expertise that will gather to be a tremendous step forward in economic development, education, and overall quality of life for rural Alabamians.

    The Summit’s featured speakers include U.S. Senator Doug Jones, AT&T Alabama President Wayne Hutchens, and Community and Regional Economics Specialist Dr. Roberto Gallardo. Alabama Public Television executive director Roy Clem will serve as moderator for the day’s sessions.

    A slate of statewide officials will participate in panels for Public Policy & Rural Technology, Small Towns & Big Ideas, the future of technology in Alabama’s rural counties, and more.

    The keynote speaker, Dr. Roberto Gallardo of Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development, formerly served as director of the Intelligent Community Institute at Mississippi State University Extension. His work now is in strengthening the use and application of broadband and other information technologies in rural Indiana. Gallardo will discuss rural economic development in the digital age.

    Lunch speaker Wayne Hutchens, named president of AT&T Alabama in 2017, previously served as the company’s assistant vice president of regulatory and external affairs. As president, he oversees AT&T Alabama’s government relations efforts and works closely with community and business leaders, public elected officials, and AT&T to continue bringing advanced communications technologies to consumers and businesses.

    U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala) will close the event. A Fairfield native, Jones was sworn-in to office in January of this year and has shown commitment to empowering rural Alabama through support of programs such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Distance Learning and Telemedicine program, which helps rural communities leverage technology to expand access to job training, educational, and health care opportunities.

    In March, Jones announced a federal grant administered through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) for the Alabama Office of Information Technology totaling $250,000 to expand the First Responder Network Authority, a public safety broadband network dedicated to police, firefighters, emergency medical service professionals, and other public safety entities.

    A session on public policy and rural technology features Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Ala), Rep. David Standridge (R-Ala.), and Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. Scofield, who represents Alabama District 9, introduced and sponsors SB149, The Rural Broadband Act, which would bring an investment in infrastructure in rural areas.

    In a session dubbed “Small Towns, Big Ideas,” two engaging and successful mayors from Alabama will share ideas that have helped their small cities thrive. Mayor Gary Fuller of the City of Opelika and Mayor Sheldon Day of the City of Thomasville will give an in-depth look at the programs, resources, and strategies that have proven beneficial in Opelika and Thomasville. Fuller will discuss Opelika’s status as Alabama’s first and only city in the state to be named a Smart City, having deployed a 100 percent fiber network that offers high speed internet throughout.

    Participants should register prior to April 2 on Eventbrite at AlabamaRuralTechnology.eventbrite.com. Event registration is $25 and includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

    For more information, contact UWA’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach at 205-652-3827. 
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