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USDA leader Hazlett moderates N.D. roundtable

Caption: Among participants in the Rural Prosperity Roundtable were, from left: Derrick Bulawa, BEK Communications; Seth Arndorfer, Dakota Carrier Network; Clare Carlson, USDA Rural Development, North Dakota; Anne Hazlett, USDA Rural Development assistant to the secretary; Brent Sanford, N.D. lieutenant governor; Doug Goehring, N.D. agriculture commissioner; Jay Schuler, N.D. Department of Commerce commissioner; and Ross Roemmich, N.D. Public Instruction.
Caption: Among participants in the Rural Prosperity Roundtable were, from left: Derrick Bulawa, BEK Communications; Seth Arndorfer, Dakota Carrier Network; Clare Carlson, USDA Rural Development, North Dakota; Anne Hazlett, USDA Rural Development assistant to the secretary; Brent Sanford, N.D. lieutenant governor; Doug Goehring, N.D. agriculture commissioner; Jay Schuler, N.D. Department of Commerce commissioner; and Ross Roemmich, N.D. Public Instruction.

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North Dakota Living report

Rural telecommunications successes in North Dakota were the focus of a major Rural Prosperity Roundtable, conducted last month in Bismarck, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development agency. Anne Hazlett, assistant to the secretary for Rural Development at USDA, visited North Dakota, and moderated the roundtable discussion, which featured leaders in government, health care, education, agriculture, broadband service and economic development. Dakota Carrier Network hosted the event.

“The specific focus of our conversation will be on connectivity, access to high-speed internet service,” Hazlett said, during her North Dakota visit, in advance of the roundtable.

“It's more than just an amenity in our modern era,” Hazlett continued. “This is a foundational piece for living in all our communities, and rural institutions need to access this technology. We see it as the foundation for everything from health care access, to new markets access, to workforce training and advanced learning opportunities.”

Hazlett praised North Dakota for the success it has experienced in the extension of high-speed connectivity throughout the state. She indicated she expected the Rural Prosperity Roundtable would help her see further the impact this connectivity investment has had on North Dakota, and how these success stories might be replicated in other parts of the country.

At USDA, Hazlett is leading the Rural Development mission area to create an environment for rural prosperity, from greater access to broadband connectivity and medical care to workforce training through distance learning. Hazlett is a graduate of Kansas State University and the Indiana University School of Law. She also holds a master’s degree in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas. Previously, Hazlett served as secretary of agriculture in the state of Indiana.

Officials and panelists joining Hazlett for the Rural Prosperity Roundtable included: Clare Carlson, USDA Rural Development state director for North Dakota; Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford; Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring; N.D. Commerce Secretary Jay Schuler; Ellen Huber, Economic Development Association of N.D.; Dan Leingang, vice president, academic affairs, Bismarck State College; Scott Davis, commissioner, N.D. Indian Affairs; Marsha Waind, regional manager, Altru Health Systems; Tod Graeber, administrator, St. Alexius Garrison Memorial Hospital & Turtle Lake Community Memorial Hospital; Todd Eissinger, CEO, Anne Carlsen Center; Koreen Ressler, vice president operations, Sitting Bull College; Ross Roemmich, information systems director, N.D. Department of Public Instruction; and Lynette Dickson, associate director, N.D. Center For Rural Health;

The rural telecommunications community was represented by panelists Seth Arndorfer, CEO, Dakota Carrier Network (DCN), and Derrick Bulawa, general manager, BEK Communications.

Arndorfer thanked Hazlett for selecting DCN facilities in Bismarck as the location for this major connectivity-focused event. For Hazlett and those in attendance, Arndorfer said the future work of DCN and its telecom provider owner-companies will be focused on securing total broadband mobility for all recipients of their services.