Kailey Foster: Recently, the US Economic Development Administration announced that Utah State University’s online distance initiative is receiving a $ 1.1 million Care Act Recovery Assistance grant along with other recognitions. Paul Hill, Director of the Remote Online Initiative, joins me today to talk about these recognitions, and more.
First, why don’t you tell us how this grant will help the online rural initiative?
Paul Hill: Well this is going to help us expand our program, we are currently focused on helping people in rural Utah find remote work opportunities. And we’re going to be able to expand into eight new city counties and work with leaders of organizations making decisions on how to embrace remote working and create hybrid organizations and help them with their remote work plans. and create more remote jobs so that you can hire people not only in their county but also in rural areas and really have access to the best talent in the world.
KF: I understand that the rural online initiative has also just been recognized with a national award. Why was the program recognized?
PH: Well, I think when we publish our impacts, that’s really what’s being assessed. These associations look at the programs and how they are broadcast and how they have developed and ultimately the impact they have had.
In our case, looking at work placements and helping business leaders embrace remote working in the state of Utah, which has also been adopted and in other states that see us as a leader and development rural economy. It’s nice to be recognized for the difference your programs are making in the country.
KF: And what future for this program?
PH: Well the next step is to really work with our business leaders in the remote work adoption process. The rapid implementation of remote work in response to COVID did not require a lot of time to implement.
So there’s this adoption as a process and we’re helping business leaders really go through that process, think about making plans, and then help them grow and develop as we come out of COVID and recover.
But looking to the future, we definitely want to get involved in helping our agricultural producers to become more profitable, to develop value-added business ideas, to integrate vertically and to go directly to the consumer. There are also opportunities, just to think about helping people embrace telemedicine and learning how to do it in our rural communities across the state.
I have a million other ideas, but these are just a few of the things we’re going to move forward with in the future.