Left to right: NRECA CEO Glenn English; ODEC President Jack Reasor; ODEC Director of Member and External Relations David Hudgins; NRECA President Mike Guidry.
Photo credit: Luis Gomez
ODEC’s Work to Bring Broadband to Rural Virginia Created 21st Century Jobs
San Diego, CA.; March 5, 2012 — The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today recognized Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) with its 2012 National Community Service Award for Community Investment.
The Glen Allen, Va. based power-supply cooperative was recognized for its forward-looking work in establishing Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) to deploy fiber-optic backbone to help spur economic development in rural Southern Virginia. ODEC fills the wholesale power needs of 11 local electric-distribution cooperatives, eight on mainland Virginia and three on the Delmarva Peninsula.
In 2000, Southern Virginia faced an enormous economic development challenge. The industries that built the region’s economy—furniture, textiles, and tobacco—were declining or moving overseas, and its rural communities struggled to recruit and retain 21st century jobs.
ODEC, and its Director of Economic Development at the time David Hudgins, identified and sought to overcome one of the region’s greatest hurdles to competing in the 21st century economy—lack of broadband. ODEC started working in the early 2000s to deploy a fiber-optic backbone along Route 58, in the heart of Southern Virginia.
To accomplish this goal, the cooperative helped establish Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC). With the help of ODEC, MBC was able to secure millions of dollars in state and federal funding for the project, and in 2006 MBC began transmitting data via fiber-optic cable along Route 58.
With the continued support of ODEC, MBC has been able to expand its mission far beyond the originally proposed service area along Route 58 into 20 Virginia counties. To date, MBC has provided fiber-optic links to 60 industrial and technology parks, and it is currently working to bring broadband to all of the secondary schools in its service territory.
MBC’s efforts have been successful in bringing new jobs to the region. Since the deployment of the broadband, millions of dollars of corporate investment have been made in the area as a direct result of the new services. Last year, the region took another step forward when Microsoft announced plans to locate a $650 million data center in Mecklenburg County. In addition, Southern Virginia students now have the opportunity to prepare for 21st century jobs through the broadband services MBC provides to schools and community colleges.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.
More than 8,000 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting March 4-7 in San Diego, Calif., during which they will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2012. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer owners.