On Jan. 29, Land O'Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford joined Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, and Accenture CEO Julie Sweet for a panel moderated by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo at the National Governors Association Annual Winter Meeting to discuss the importance of broadband connectivity for the future of the economy, education, and health care.
You can watch the full panel from the 2022 NGA Winter meeting here.
Of their shared effort, Ford commented, “I want to thank these two [Accenture and Best Buy] because they are partnered with us in our initiative called the American Connection Project where we have over 176 companies and large organizations focused on awareness, advocacy and taking action: free Wi-Fi locations, job creation and technology… it’s more powerful when we’re working together.”
When discussing the digital divide and its implication on the agriculture and food production sector, Ford said, “It leaves us less competitive – I don’t think it is an overstatement to say it is a national security issue. How do you create jobs and have food security for a nation if you don’t have the best technology, if we’re not investing?”
When discussing partnerships and their ability to deepen the reach of broadband expansion, Ford explained Land O’Lakes newest partnership with the Center on Rural Innovation.
“It is going to take these partnerships, public-private. We just announced an initiative in Aberdeen, South Dakota,” Ford commented. “We wanted to first make sure we highlighted broadband access. We’re partnered with CORI (Center on Rural Innovation), and we want digital skills development in that community to create jobs in Aberdeen, South Dakota that are tech jobs.”
Land O’Lakes and CORI launched their first American Connection Community in Aberdeen, South Dakota in January of 2022. Under the new joint project, Aberdeen will be the first of a set of rural communities to benefit from several months of strategic planning and engagement through CORI’s Rural Innovation Initiative to help them create innovation hubs, assist with applications for state, and federal funding and gain access to digital skills and tools.
The Land O’Lakes American Connection Project efforts were on full display at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, and Ford’s comments showcased the central mission, “Foundationally, we have to get technology and access, we must get broadband and wireless available in these [underserved and unserved] communities so they can stabilize and do the work they need to do.”