Editorial: Rural telework provides great opportunity

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2002

The chance for a rural telework center in Albert Lea, while still not a sure thing, is an exciting possibility that could provide real benefits in the city’s effort to offer high-quality jobs to residents, recent graduates and newcomers. The efforts of those at Greater Jobs, Inc. who have been pursuing this development, as well as the efforts of Sen. Paul Wellstone and Rep. Gil Gutknecht to secure funding in the federal farm bill, are to thank for this opportunity. Having come this far, it’s imperative that Albert Lea do everything possible to seize that opportunity.

The concept is to set up telework centers &045; there could be four around the state &045; where people from Greater Minnesota could go to work for large metropolitan companies. Using telecommunications, those employees could live here while being employed by companies like Northwest Airlines or 3M, just to name two possibilities.

Not only would this be a benefit to Albert Lea residents, but it would draw people in from around the area &045; Austin, Owatonna and beyond. If successful, it would provide one more reason for people to come to Albert Lea, and in this way would make a nifty complement to efforts to enhance tourism opportunities and increase the area’s status as a regional retail center.

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Providing opportunities for good jobs is a major factor&045; perhaps the most important factor &045; in a city’s ability to grow and remain vital, and this kind of technology-driven development is an excellent way to do that for a rural area like ours.

If and when the time comes, those who are interested in bettering the Albert Lea and Freeborn County areas would be wise to invest whatever resources necessary in making the rural telework center happen.