A phone company miracle


The New York Times has a wonderfully inspirational story of a little town in Kansas – Lenora. Many old mid-sized towns and farming communities are dying because of the changing economic landscape. Lenora, however, has bucked the trend, thanks to the efforts of a former Sprint Executive.

bq. “Rural Telephone Service Company,” the blue canopy says. Three blocks away, the two-story brick fortress of the senior and junior high school was vacated with the 2001 graduating class of 10. Today the name on the front says “Rural Telephone Plant Department.” Karen Coffman, the owner of Karen’s Cafe, said, “I believe if Rural Telephone wasn’t here, we would have nothing.”

This phone company has been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of this little town, and leading a digital revival. I have always maintained that rural broadband is the salvation for America’s ailing economy. When you move away from the high-cost centers such as San Francisco, Silicon Valley and New York, as a commercial enterprise you can radically lower your costs and become even more globally competitive. This clearly is the blueprint for fighting back the outsourcing trend.

bq. As Larry E. Sevier, 60, chief executive and general manager, builds Rural Telephone, he is bringing young people back to the rural Plains. Some come from vanishing family farms. Web page designers, software writers and computer technicians have come back from Denver, Omaha and Silicon Valley. Some are new immigrants.

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