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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

2010 EDIES Story 20 of 24: High tech jobs booting up in rural Iowa

The high tech landscape is evolving in a way that is leveling the economic playing field for rural communities.  Not only are mega companies picking Iowa above Silicon Valley for specific types of expansions, but these companies are recognizing the value of a telecommuting workforce that can choose to live in small rural towns while collaborating on engineering projects of national importance.  Pete Holden, engineer for Rockwell Collins and Mayor of Traer, explains.  Remind me – what are the EDIES

HOW WE DID IT: Rockwell Collins and Tropical PCB Design, the company that employs me, worked together to develop the best process for telecommuting.  In the beginning, I worked in Rockwell Collins’ Cedar Rapids facility, but after about a year, I was able to transition to telecommuting full-time.

HOW WE GOT THE IDEA:  It became obvious to Rockwell Collins that to attract the most talented workers for unique, specialized positions, in this case, Printed Circuit Board Design Engineers, they needed to offer telecommuting as an option.  Rockwell Collins sought me out.  At the time, I was living in Arizona.

OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE: Before telecommuting as a contract employee for Rockwell Collins, changing the mind-set of employers was exceedingly difficult.  Many employers did not think you could get a full day’s work from an employee.

HOW WE OVERCAME IT: As employers’ comfort levels increased with technological advancements, such as e-mail, instant messaging and net meetings, the stage was set to telecommute.  Once I began telecommuting for Rockwell Collins, it was up to me to stay in constant communication with co-workers to make them feel like I was working right beside them.  It has proven successful.

ADVICE TO OTHERS: Don’t give up if your employer or potential employer does not see telecommuting as a viable option.  If it makes sense to telecommute, it is possible to be a highly-functional employee without physically being in the office.

WHAT IS NEXT: For me, it is trying to develop relationships with other companies to provide telecommuting as an option to their employees.

Photo of  Pete Holden by MoCo Creative Photography Division.

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