Details about applying for new broadband grants and insight into the U.S Department of Agriculture’s efforts to support the telecommunications industry were among the highlights of the annual Tennessee Telecommunications Association annual conference.
“Our members were presented with information on several topics important to our industry,” says Levoy Knowles, executive director of the association. “I appreciate the participation of our guest speakers, our members’ attendance and the support of our sponsors. This was one of our best annual meetings to date.”
Almost 200 people representing the telecommunications industry attended the event, which was held in Franklin.
About 45 vendors also provided members with information about the latest technology and equipment for delivering telecom services to homes and businesses.
During the opening session, Jim Tracy shared about his agency’s work toward “Narrowing the Digital Divide.” A former Tennessee state senator, Tracy was appointed last fall as state director of the USDA Rural Development office. He told conference attendees several grants are available through the USDA that, along with support from the state legislature, are helping deliver broadband to Tennessee’s rural residents.
From the state level, attendees heard reports from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Commissioner Bob Rolfe, along with Assistant Commissioner, Rural Development Amy New, reported on efforts such as the state’s Broadband Ready Communities program, as well as support for site development, asset-based planning and downtown development and revitalization.
One of the more popular sessions discussed the timeline and application process for round two of Tennessee’s Broadband Accessibility Grant. Broadband Grant and Program Manager Crystal Ivey, along with Special Projects Director Amanda Martin, discussed how to apply, the key dates in this year’s program and changes in the application process since the first round.
While conference sessions included information about broad trends, they also focused on best practices for day-to-day tasks and challenges in the industry, including losing an employee, sexual harassment in the workplace and the impact of social media in customer service and marketing.
Photos from the conference can be seen in the gallery below.