We hope after reading this article you will be as jazzed as we are to have Olds, the Olds Institute and our partner/presenter Bob Miller (Calgary Regional Partnership) represented at EconoUS2017. If your interest is piqued be sure to join the Local Economy Tour on Wednesday, September 13 and check out Bob’s workshop on Thursday, September 14  Broadband in Rural Communities.

We call the Olds Institute, an innovative community-based local economic development organization, the little engine that could – and DID

I first met the good folks in Olds, Alberta (a community of 8,500) when I needed a quick education on tackling the digital divide. In the Calgary Region, we’ve been developing a region-wide fibre strategy for several years given that broadband connectivity throughout rural areas has become fundamental to attracting and retaining community members, businesses and agricultural producers.

First community-owned 1GB community in Canada

The Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development is a 16-year-old CED organization with over 150 active volunteers and over a dozen working groups supporting a small staff team. They have pioneered Canada’s first 100% community-owned and operated broadband network providing free WIFI in most parks and commercial areas in the community. This utility infrastructure and O-NET the Internet Service Provider, operating on the network are social enterprises owned by the Olds Institute. The Olds Institute also operates an Information and Entrepreneurship Centre and retails electricity and natural gas. The proceeds from these activities support CED initiatives in the community.

Olds is an amazing story of whole-community vision, leadership, perseverance, and risk-taking. As a hotbed of social entrepreneurship, community-building buzz and forging a community-based path to economic prosperity – this is a tour NOT to be missed!

See you there!


About the author: 

Bob Miller is the Regional Economic Prosperity lead for the Calgary Regional Partnership. Bob’s passion for ideas around economic justice and Jane Jacobs carried him through a B.A. in Economics (Honours, UofC), though he promptly got distracted to become an Urban and Regional Planner for 35 years. On the side, he immersed himself in community-based groups and actions.  Along the way, Bob obtained an MA in Community and Regional Planning (UBC) and, more recently, completed the Community Economic Development program at Simon Fraser University.  As it turned out, he retired into another career to merge economics and regional planning in his role as the Regional Economic Prosperity Lead for a voluntary collaboration of municipalities (whose Board is a dozen Mayors).  Bob has provided leadership to the Calgary Region’s broadband and fibre initiative over the past three years, working closely with municipalities, other regions and the Province.

Bob Miller is one of the Workshop leads for EconoUs2017, Broadband in Rural Communities.