On the surface, the Smart Rural Community® Showcase Award from NTCA is about how an operator mixes bandwidth and technology to create new opportunities for their community. The award is more than these elements, however, as it is also a reflection of the operator’s initiative and their “smarts” to continue to find ways to make their communities relevant within and beyond their service territory borders. CTC of Brainerd, MN is a great example of a company that continually bucks the status quo and was recently awarded for its efforts with an NTCA Smart Rural Community® Showcase Award.
We caught up with Kevin Larson, GM/CEO of CTC, on the eve of a White House Rural Council reception for the Smart Rural Community Showcase Award winners. In the above interview, Larson talks about one of their initiatives that is helping another cooperative, Arrowhead Electric in Lutson, MN, offer broadband to its members. Although Arrowhead is 200 miles away, CTC is able to provide it telecom services, sales and marketing and technical support. This allows Arrowhead to offer telecom and broadband services to its members with minimal impact on its core business of providing electric service. Similarly, CTC is generating new revenue without adding staff or new equipment.
As seen in last year’s interview with Joe Buttweiler of Arrowhead, the Arrowhead service territory was broadband deficient before they began offering service. It is clear that one of the reasons for the success of Arrowhead and CTC is that both companies shared a common mission of service to their customers. With this mission and with a fiber infrastructure, these entities have created a foundation that will smartly serve their customers in the years ahead.