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Alder Scott J. Resnick

Alder Scott J. Resnick

Home Address:
661 Mendota Ct # 1404
Madison , WI 53703

Phone: 608-807-7962
Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Budget Amendments: Closing the Digital Divide and Promoting Women Entrepreneurship

September 29, 2014 4:37 PM

Earlier this month the Executive's Office presented it's capital budget, and today, I am excited to announce two innovative amendments:

Creation of a Madison Co-op Internet Utility

As a tech entrepreneur, I know that Internet access is a critical tool for students and families to succeed in the 21st century. This has been one of my passions while on council. Last year, I offered an amendment to provide Internet access to low-income neighborhoods, and community groups throughout the city provided insight on how to cross the digital divide. This year, I am proposing the creation of a Madison cooperative Internet utility to provide wireless Internet service to low income neighborhood and families.

The goal of the utility is to leverage existing Internet fiber connections, and provide affordable wireless services to better service the public beyond the downtown. Ideally, any student on free and reduced lunch could also have inexpensive or free access to the Internet at home, and provided with a computer by the school district within five years. To accomplish this goal, the city will gather input from existing partners, explore relevant business models, and index existing resources though a feasibility study. To keep operating costs low for low income families, we will work in cooperation with existing fiber partners and schools to provide maintenance service. It is possible we may also use this system in a job-training program for at-risk students. This is a bold step to cross the digital divide.

Some opponents will refer back to a failed attempt to create a Madison broadband network nearly a decade ago. Others may suggest that we wait for the FCC to modify state law. Unlike MadCity Broadband, this Internet cooperative will look for local partners with existing service providers and use more modern technology than what was available years ago. In regards to potential action by the FCC, existing barriers are a low bar for us to overcome and a feasibility study will be prudent regardless of the FCC ruling. Sun Prairie is going through the process now.

A detailed analysis for the project can be found here.

1.2 Million Dollars for Promoting Women Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses

Women entrepreneurs have created several of the most prominent companies within the Madison and Dane county region. Yet highlighted by the recent Forward Technology Festival, women entrepreneurs face hardships raising venture and business capital to start and expand businesses. A recent Harvard study indicated that women were slightly 50% less likely to be funded compared to a male counterpart, and another study showed that Wisconsin ranked 46th for combined "economic clout" for women-owned businesses. Organizations such as the Doyenne Group have been formed in Madison to combat this trend and make Madison a great place for all entrepreneurs.

The goal of amendment is to create a capital resource fund to provide financing, development, raising awareness, and assistance to women-lead companies located within Madison. During the 2015 year, the Economic Development Division staff alongside the Economic Development Committee will best identify how to distribute funds to assist women in new entrepreneurial and small business endeavors, subject to approval by the Common Council. The 1.2 million dollar fund will be spread over three years.

With this funding we hope to both cultivate and attract female entrepreneurs to Madison. The City will be supporting the grass-roots efforts throughout the business community, and enhance already existing programs dedicated to the same mission.

Both amendments will be debated Tuesday evening at the Board of Estimates meeting.

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