More Opportunities for Workers

The face of business on the Coast is changing as some of our long time industries fade, like lumbering and fishing. Making a living looks different now for students as well as adults who want to have better jobs or new careers. Students want to have the 21st Century technical skills industry demands. Many adults look to improve their livelihoods with new degrees or certificates. Businesses want to train and retrain workers online. To do this in today’s world, and certainly in the future, computer technical skills and Internet savvy are necessities. High speed Internet access is a must. The many in our area who are still suffering with dial-up need to start jumping up and down to demand high speed Internet from ATT, Comcast and our County. The opportunities are limited for those without it.


One of the opportunities for people who live up here in Paradise is to work from home. Not only could they have their own home-based businesses or telecommute, but they could be part of the new trend for companies to have information workers all over the country and world. For example, all of airline Jet Blue’s reservation agents work from their homes while connected into the main network. CEO David Neeleman reported on a CBS Evening News interview that the productivity increased 25 percent when they took people out of call cubicles and put them in home offices. He calls this an “Internet revolution”, the way of the future. It is a win-win for happy people working from home as well as for the company.


Online education is getting to be commonplace in areas where broadband is available. College of the Redwoods President Jeff Marsee has set a goal to offer more high quality online classes. Mendocino Coast Dean, Geisce Ly, is poised to do just that, but with our lack of high speed connection outside of the central Fort Bragg and Mendocino areas, he says it is “tough”. He is taking bold and exciting steps nonetheless to prepare students for a 21st Century workforce where computer skills are assumed, and to offer professional development seminars.. He has started to collaborate with some local organizations and the Fire Department to train workers using computer technology.


Just imagine what might be possible as a development strategy for the GP mill site if high speed Internet access was available all over the coast! This could be a new information technology hub putting many people to work – without using gas or valuable travel time to do it!

Shirley Freriks of the Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance; www.mendocinocoastbroadband.org; comments are welcome at sfreriks@mcn.org

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