FAYETTE, Iowa (Nov. 9, 2009) – Iowa’s USDA Rural Development State Director Bill Menner visited Upper Iowa University’s Fayette campus to present a check in the amount of $99,000 to President Alan G. Walker. The funds are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG).
Upper Iowa will use the funds toward the start-up of its Heartlanding Information Technology Services Center (HITSC), a service arm of the University’s e-Center. Services include web development, IT project management, IT consulting, IT infrastructure implementation, IT research, help center, social media implementation and IT training.
Menner was given a presentation of HITSC by Dr. Joseph Elarde, assistant professor of Information Technology, and the students who are gaining valuable real-life work experience through HITSC. The presentation included a look at HITSC’s own website and more than 10 other sites of local clientele HITSC student workers are currently working on.
Elarde’s presentation included some of the following information:
- Although off-shoring has devastated many employee lives after their companies seek to reduce costs by off shoring, author George Reynolds of “Information Technology for Managers” suggests the cost benefits of off-shoring will be short lived since the cost of livings in India and China are increasing by more than 15% per year and will eventually catch-up to America.
- E-Commerce will enable rural American companies to access a global market. According to a recent study Business to Consumer (B2C) sales are growing at 40% per year but only represent approximately 3.3% of all retailing in 2008.
- There are an estimated 1.7 billion people worldwide (World Internet Usage Statistics) with access to the Internet. In the United States, Internet access penetration has reached approximately 74% of the population (North American Internet Usage Statistics).
“HITSC "Edu-ployment" enhances the UIU computer education IT program and makes it very attractive for students,” said Elarde. “There are not many universities and computer education programs in the nation that provide a system where students can actually work in the IT field and help the local community while searching for employment.”
Menner, who spent eight years in community and rural economic development in Grinnell, praised what Upper Iowa had already accomplished and stated, “I can see this program continuing to grow, becoming an important asset to the sustainability of the local business community, and develop into a critical resource for this rural area.”
Joining Menner for the check presentation was President Walker, Andrew Wenthe, UIU Director of External Affairs, Carolyn Corbin, representing the Northeast Iowa Business Network, a partner with UIU in the grant, and Douglas Moss, area director for USDA, Waverly. Upper Iowa was informed they had been awarded this grant money last month.
”We are grateful for the USDA’s support of this innovative initiative,” said President Walker. “In conjunction with the UIU e-Center, HITSC will help to create jobs, provide opportunities for our students, and foster economic development in northeast Iowa.”
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