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Bible, Edward / Planning report: annual overall economic development program report
no. 113

Chapter IV: potentials and constraints to economic development,   pp. [unnumbered]-40 PDF (3.6 MB)

Page 40

Conservation and Development Council as an RC&D measure, and this body brought this
potential initiative to the forefront. To date, through continued dialogue, all five counties served
by the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission have passed resolutions in
support of an ITBEC. There is the possibility that as many as eleven counties may ultimately
join such an effort. At this time, there is enough support and a large enough block of counties
for the WCA to justify the formation of a fourth ITBEC in the state. ITBEC is the operational
organization resulting from a vision shared by Governor Thompson, DOA Secretary Klauser and
the WCA to "Bring Wisconsin to the World".
A summary of projects which were identified by three working groups in the first year
of the Northwest ITBEC, as well as a list of projects for 1995 was shown in last year's O.E.D.P.
annual report. Each ITBEC would, of course, identify projects which were suited to its needs,
and the southwest ITBEC's will, or should, have slightly different priorities to reflect local needs.
In last year's O.E.D.P. annual report, a detailed discussion of the Wisconsin Community
Information Partnership (WiCIP) and GraNet was reported on. To summarize, WiCIP is a
cooperative effort by the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, the University of
Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Wisconsin Extension and others to develop a prototype for
local community information networks. The pilot project took place in Grant and Dane Counties.
NET SOUTHWEST, a somewhat similar effort to bring communication technology to the
area, but especially to schools and libraries, will be discussed below, and will provide the reader
with a timely update of activities and accomplishments that have taken place. Very simply, NET
SOUTHWEST is a computer network that will soon serve as a regional library and information
service for school and public libraries in Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Lafayette and Richland counties.
It has been organized through the Southwest Wisconsin Library System (SWLS). The network
intends to connect 26 public and 86 school libraries in the five counties. The computing program
DYNIX will have the capacity to connect to other computer sources as well. The network, when
complete, will have a service area with a population of 119,000 people.
The project has received financial support from a seventeen foundations and businesses
to help fund start-up costs. Foundations providing support have included Lands' End, Ameritech,
Wisconsin Power and Light, TDS Telcom, and Grant-Lafayette Electric, for example. Ameritech
is providing technical support setting up the system as are various local telephone companies.
Start-up costs have been estimated to be $500,000. for the system.
At present, there are 24 school and public libraries that are members of the system. There
are an additional 90 libraries which the system would like to include before the network becomes
operational around Labor Day of 1996. Monthly telephone costs will run $150 per month for
each user, and there are on-going operational costs of $55,000 per year to be shared by members.
Each of the current members have had hardware installed at their facilities, and training on the
system will begin during the month of June of this year and will be provided by Ameritech. The
data base is currently "under construction". The project is patterned after the urban/rural South
Central Library System's network, but NET SOUTHWEST may be the first in the state to serve
a completely rural area. In this sense, the project is very unique and should offer one of the best
systems in the state.

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