DEL NORTE — The Upper Rio Grande Economic Development meeting on Tuesday morning at the Rio Grande County Annex building in Del Norte featured keynote speaker Amanda Pearson who is part of the newly formed San Luis Valley Broadband Coalition. Prior to the presentation, URGED President Craig Barraclough introduced the new Director Andrea Oaks-Jaramillo.
Oaks-Jaramillo took a few moments after the opening of the meeting to share her thoughts on what direction she would like the URGED group to go in, stating that she would like to develop a more stringent and focused marketing strategy to inform the San Luis Valley of their activities and some of the work that is being done by the economic development organization in the region.
“My thought, my hope, and my plan for Upper Rio Grande at this point is to do a more comprehensive marketing plan so that people actually understand what Upper Rio Grande is, what we do, and what the value is of being a member,” Oaks-Jaramillo said.
Oaks-Jaramillo also said that she would like to create a stronger social media presence to draw more attention to some of the service the group can provide to local businesses, both established and new, that are struggling in the Valley with different issues. Oaks-Jaramillo only recently took over the director position and is looking forward to working with the board.
Oaks-Jaramillo then introduced San Luis Valley Broadband Coalition speaker Pearson who began her presentation by explaining what the coalition was hoping to do to improve and fill some of the gaps in broadband connection in the Valley.
Pearson explained that through the coalition some of the gaps that are hindering the development of strong broadband connections in the Valley have been identified and that the idea was to seek funding to help solve some of the issues.
Pearson explained that through the effort of one of the other collaboration groups she participates in, it was identified that the Valley needed a technological look at potential infrastructure growth within the communities and to connect some of the outlying communities that need broadband connections outside of the Valley such as the Four Corners area and parts of New Mexico.
Through these efforts, the group realized that for the outlying areas that need broadband, companies supplying the infrastructure would need to travel through the Valley to reach these areas and that it would be a perfect opportunity for the San Luis Valley to tap into these projects to help fill the gaps in broadband connections here.
Throughout the presentation, it was also discussed that several communities in the Valley had the resources needed for strong broadband connection but not the educational programs to help teach people how to access it. Though the conversation is still underway, some funding sources have been identified and would require each community to help by setting aside money to help with matching funds for grant opportunities.