NORTH CANTON: Walsh University announced Wednesday that the Intelligent Community Forum think tank will establish an institute on its campus to help cities adapt to the 21st-century economy.
The institutes at Walsh and in the Canadian city of Stratford, Ontario, will be the first worldwide to study ways to improve communities stagnating with closed factories and limited business prospects.
“We’re going to help make sure that doesn’t happen here,” Walsh President Richard Jusseaume said at a luncheon unveiling the institute. “We’re going to reinvent ourselves.”
Walsh secured the institute through ties to Louis Zacharilla of New York City, who graduated from the private Catholic college in 1978 with a degree in English literature.
He said that when he saw the economy of his hometown of Lyons in upstate New York, he developed a taste for helping blighted communities to reinvent themselves in a knowledge-based economy.
In 2004, he co-founded the New York City-based Intelligent Community Forum, which identifies the best practices of intelligent communities, such as broadband technology to link residents and serve as a platform for business growth.
“Broadband is like the railroad,” Zacharilla is fond of saying, “but the products are information-based rather than wood or steel.”
The organization has identified more than 100 communities — they can be regions, cities or neighborhoods — around the world that have used broadband technology plus intellectual and social capital to help reinvent themselves.
That includes three communities in Ohio: Cleveland, the Columbus suburb of Dublin and the Northeast Ohio region.
The last was selected because it is served by the nonprofit Internet provider OneCommunity, which acquired fiber from carriers for an ultrabroadband network for government and institutional members.
In December, Stratford was named the organization’s first institute. The city of 31,000 has employed a city-owned company to lay 60 kilometers (about 37.3 miles) of optical fiber as a backbone of a public Wi-Fi network; launched the Stratford Institute, a think tank focusing on digital media; and linked 80 percent of the city’s family physicians together on a broadband portal, relieving the region’s shortage of such doctors.
The Walsh institute will study new ways to train teachers in a knowledge economy, will support and teach the principles of the Intelligent Community Forum movement to communities that want to reinvent themselves with broadband technology and will build ties to communities that are part of the burgeoning movement.
Jusseaume said the institute probably will employ one person and will hold a global seminar on intelligent communities in the fall.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.