Oct. 23--For the second year in a row, Mitchell has been selected by the Intelligent Community Forum as one of the world's Smart21 Communities.
0 Talk about it
Mitchell and 20 other communities are now in contention for the designation of 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year, which will be awarded in June.
Roger Musick, CEO of Innovative Systems -- an advanced telecom services firm located in Mitchell -- said the award is based on communities having access to high-speed Internet and figuring out how to use it to stimulate the economy. Mitchell has a fiber-to-the-premise network that can serve every business and residence in town with high-speed Internet.
"A lot of communities don't have fiber," Musick said, "and where Mitchell can get 10, 20 or 30 megabytes per second, many other communities can only do 1 or 2 megabytes per second."
Intelligent Community Forum cofounder Louis Zacharilla said another one of the reasons Mitchell was selected is the stability of its rural culture. For many rural areas, the transition from agriculture to the information society has been hard, the ICF notes, and over the last few decades, the area around Mitchell has lost nearly 30 percent of its population.
"It looks like you've begun to arrest that," Zacharilla said. "You've figured out a way to keep your kids home in a place that some might consider the middle of nowhere, but you've declared the TRACY middle of nowhere is no more."
The ICF has noticed the city of Mitchell is slowly gaining population as it builds on its strengths of Internet connectivity and a coalition of privatesector and government people who exemplify what ICF's Robert Bell calls the "innovation triangle" of business, government and academic institutions.
"The city has taken the lead to improving quality of life," Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy said. "We built a new outdoor aquatic center, a soccer complex with 10 fields, an indoor hockey arena and added another sheet of ice to the existing hockey facility. We've done a lot in terms of improving the amenities, and I think it is now an attractive place for young families.
"We've stepped into the 21st century, out here in the boondocks in South Dakota; we're growing and proud of what we've accomplished."
In Mitchell's public schools, sevenththrough 12th-graders are given iPads or laptops, and the area boasts a twoyear technical vocational institute focused on business, communications technology and precision farming, as well as Dakota Wesleyan University, a four-year degree-granting college. Both institutions have increasing enrollment, and one-third of Dakota Wesleyan's graduates stay in the area.