Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin Rebecca Kleefisch will visit Bayfield County on Wednesday to celebrate Norvado’s investment in fiber-to-the-home initiatives and the signing of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 917, which created the Telecommuter Forward! program.
Telecommuter Forward! will designate Wisconsin communities where broadband speeds, local support and co-working space combine to make ideal remote working environments.
Lt. Gov. Kleefisch’s visit will be hosted at Norvado, a cooperative telecommunications company that helped develop guidelines for the new bill. The event will include a speech, press conference, photo ops and a tour led by Norvado CEO Chad Young. The lieutenant governor is expected to recognize the efforts of businesses like Norvado that have helped communities become “telecommuter ready.”
“It is a big honor for Norvado to host Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and show her our investment in making Bayfield County an inviting home for businesses and remote workers,” Young said. “Telecommuter Forward! will shine a spotlight on communities like ours that can deliver small-town quality of life along with the broadband connectivity that many big cities would love to have.”
Specifically, Telecommuter Forward! engages employers and broadband providers to develop telecommuter-capable broadband packages and promote telecommuter-friendly workspaces. The bill, signed by Gov. Scott Walker on April 16, encourages employees to build lives in an area that is telecommuter-optimized. “They can move to Bayfield County, they can send their kids to school here, and they can work remotely because of the opportunities created by the great broadband infrastructure,” said Scottie Sandstrom, executive director of Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation. “After initial conversations with Chad Young and Norvado staff, I contacted Angie Dickison, the Wisconsin State Broadband Director who then brought in the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association and the Wisconsin Counties association to begin shaping the Telecommuter Forward! Certification legislation. Being on the ground floor of such ground-breaking collaboration is very exciting and rewarding.” Sandstrom added.
This new program allows a city, village, town or county to apply for certification as a Telecommuter Forward! Community, with a goal of stimulating economic activity by increasing job opportunities and awareness of telecommuting. Through an application process, a committee will determine which communities have earned the designation.
“As a member-owned cooperative, we’ve been using technology to improve the quality of life and economic conditions of people in our community for decades,” says Young. “I think supporting remote workers through Telecommuter Forward! is the next chapter in that legacy.”