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Hartington, Hartelco Receive Smart Rural Community Recognition

By Anne Byers, Nebraska Information Technology Commission

On Friday, November 17, Hartelco and the community of Hartington celebrated being named one of 13 Smart Rural Communities in the United States by NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. Hartington is the first Nebraska community to receive this recognition. Hartelco is one of the first telecommunications providers in Nebraska to provide 100% fiber optic, gig-capable service to all of its customers. Over 200 people, including Lieutenant Governor Foley, attended the celebration. Foley praised Hartington for being the kind of community in which people want to live.

“What makes us smart?” said Mike Becker, general manager for Hartelco. “A smart community has broadband that connects all facets of a community to support its citizens. That includes health care, schools, the medical facilities, businesses, economic development and local government. Thank you to our progressive board, our employees, and our community members who made this award possible. It has been an 8-year project to bring broadband to everyone and eliminate the digital divide.”

Hartington has a long history of accomplishments in the area of economic development, winning the 2014 Governor’s Showcase Community Award for outstanding community development accomplishments during a five-year period in which the community revitalized the downtown with infrastructure improvements, developed a Westfield Acres housing development project that encompassed 19 lots for the construction of homes, and also assisted in the start-up of Trail Manor Manufacturing Company. In those 5 years, over $1.7 million was received through local, state, and federal grants through the City of Hartington.

Broadband has played a role in Hartington’s success.

“The community of Hartington is fortunate to have many volunteers, businesses, organizations, and community leaders all working for the betterment and growth of our community,” said Carla Becker, economic development coordinator for the City of Hartington. “In today’s economy, it is vital to have great connectivity and having 100% fiber availability is not only a great service to the people who live in Hartington and the area, but also plays a critical part in helping our businesses and farming community grow. It is also necessary in attracting businesses. Hartelco’s investment into the community and area was substantial and its commitment to providing 100% fiber demonstrates that they understand the need and demand for this great service to everyone. The community is extremely fortunate to have fiber where other communities are struggling for basic internet connectivity. Hartelco has been a major supporter of community growth, and we are fortunate to have them as a utility in Hartington and as a business supporter in economic development.”

The Hartington Public Library also plays an important role in providing access to computers and the internet as well as training and one-on-one assistance. The library offers 5 or 6 classes a year on topics like creating a photobook on Shutterfly or digital photography through Northeast Community College. The library just finished digitizing the archive of the local newspaper to facilitate genealogical and historical searches. The library also hosts a variety of programs, including six art shows a year and monthly programs in conjunction with University of Nebraska Extension.

Congratulations, Hartington and Hartelco, on your accomplishments!

From the December 2017 issue (PDF) of Nebraska Broadband