Letters to the Editor

Letters: Broadband is biggest hurdle for farmers; Change needed for innovative companies to grow

Farms without broadband feeling disconnect from industry’s tech revolution

Connected farms are increasingly using robots, drones, and self-driving tractors. But an estimated 29 percent of American farms don’t have internet access, and about 6 percent of the population in Pennsylvania doesn’t have access to broadband.
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Connected farms are increasingly using robots, drones, and self-driving tractors. But an estimated 29 percent of American farms don’t have internet access, and about 6 percent of the population in Pennsylvania doesn’t have access to broadband.

Broadband is biggest hurdle for farmers

The fun and activities of the Grange Fair do not hide the problems of our farmers.

This has always been an island of prosperity, even in hard times, but this prosperity does not reach the farmland – just ask the local dairies.

The county seeks to rectify this, with some success.

There is more farmland preserved, thanks to the Land Preservation Board.

Residents are encouraged to shop locally, at farmers markets, at the new farm to table café, whose menu is wholly local, or to join the Taproot Kitchen.

(It makes no sense to ship the produce out and then ship in different produce — there are transportation costs and the food is less fresh).

There is an effort to process locally the products instead of shipping them out. This may be the salvation of the dairies — which lost their regular buyers — if the county government can bring in a cheese factory.

But the big stumbling block to achieve prosperity is the lack of broadband internet. Broadband is more and more a necessity in business, and lack of it cuts our farmers from needed investment. No matter how many tax advantages and regulation easement are offered, no one will not come to a place with no broadband any more than to a place with no running water. This holds the local farmers back, and we can only hope that the efforts of the county government to bring the much needed broadband will bear fruit.

Adriana Pena, State College

Change needed for innovative companies to grow

I read with interest the article on Pennsylvania’s chronic under-investment in innovation. It did not surprise me. I spent many years as a faculty member in the College of Engineering. I joined the faculty after spending time at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Upon joining the faculty in Electrical Engineering, I found that very few of the faculty were active in consulting. Additionally there was no discussion as developing area based innovative startup companies. In fact it seemed to be discouraged. I left PSU in 1984 and took a position in Massachusetts that involved setting up a Microelectronics Center for nine Massachusetts-based universities. The concept was for the Commonwealth to match the $20 million that the Center was required to raise from industry within the Commonwealth as well as outside of Massachusetts. This was accomplished in less than three years. Upon returning to State College I joined Zero State Capital, a Massachusetts-based early venture investor, with responsibility for technical assessment of proposals. The faculty and staff of PSU were not cooperative in helping create startup technology companies. Zero Stage closed its office. In 1993 I was asked to take over a NJ based company, a turn around opportunity, sold it in 1998 and retired. Served on a NYSE technology company for 12 years. PSU needs an aggressive well funded program to overcome too many years of neglect. The culture in both the Commonwealth and PSU must change in order for new innovative companies to be formed and grow in Centre County.

Joseph Stach, State College
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