Rural E-Commerce Extension
Due to an increase in retail trade in services
in rural communities, the economic make-up
of these communities has seen recent changes.
Small firms are bringing in more business
to these areas, and one critical avenue available
to these businesses for improving their market
share and efficiency is the use of e-commerce.
In the fall of 2003, NIFA provided funding
to the Southern Rural Development Center
for the development of a national e-commerce
demonstration project. A partnership between
Mississippi State University Extension Service,
New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension
Service, and the University of Nebraska Cooperative
Extension Service led to the creation of
E-Commerce Extension Initiative.
The initiative is looking at four important
factors in the adoption and diffusion of
- Do these areas have the technological
infrastructure in place to adopt and apply
- Do local governments understand the
role e-commerce can play in the economy?
- Do state and local extension educators
have the knowledge and educational resources
needed to support small businesses?
- Do rural small businesses understand
how to best utilize e-commerce activities?
Small business training is the key investment
of the initiative, but resources are also
being used to strengthen key educational
products that address e-community and e-government
activities by extension educators.
In August 2004, the initiative launched
the first edition of e-News,
an electronic update of issues surrounding
the development of rural e-commerce.
In 2005, the initiative will promote outstanding
e-commerce curricula development through
a new NIFA competitive grants program open
to all extension educators. More regional
workshops will be held to train trainers
in such skills as using the Internet to learn
about markets, creating e-commerce products,
selling in cyberspace, and after-sales support.
The project's e-library will continue to
expand with the addition of e-government
and e-community resources. In addition, the
Southern Rural Development Center, located
at Mississippi State University, will take
the lead in launching the conversion of select
e-commerce products to comply with the new e-Extension
Initiative information protocol.
For more information about the Rural E-Commerce
Extension Initiative, contact Sally Maggard,
national program leader, Economic and Community
Back to Rural & Community Development Home Page