The Bank of America is the latest member of a partnership led by WSU working to create information-based jobs in rural Washington.

The bank joins WSU’s Center to Bridge the Digital Divide, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, Stone Soup, CenturyTel and other entities in providing financial support to a two-year project aimed at bringing jobs to rural areas. Specifically, the Bank of America is supporting work in Dayton, Ritzville, Omak, Forks and Republic to create at least 100 living-wage jobs in the region.

The “Revitalizing Communities through e-Work” project is based on the premise that a variety of information-based jobs – from back office to highly skilled technical positions – can be done effectively from rural communities, said Dee Christensen, program manager.

“In addition, it is increasingly possible for existing rural businesses to expand their workforce and improve business practices with the use of technology,” she said. Project staff will work with the communities on a variety of individual local activities to increase their capacity to create e-work jobs.

Past successes include the creation of 70 full-time jobs in Colville in partnership with Washington Dental Service, which saved over $1.2 million in labor and facilities by moving work to the rural community. That success led a second employer to locate in Colville as well, adding another 72 jobs.

The project has gained the attention and support of Washington’s leadership, including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

“Today, there are real opportunities to connect urban businesses with rural communities in Washington state,” Murray said. “WSU’s rural e-work program is playing an important role in helping businesses compete while creating new jobs in rural Washington.”

Nelson Ludlow, CEO of Mobilisa which is a leading provider of mobile and wireless solutions for government and military, agreed.

“I feel the work that WSU is doing is critical to supporting rural high- tech growth,” he said. “I am convinced that high-tech jobs provide a real solution to providing living/professional wage jobs to people living outside the Seattle corridor. It also makes sense given our state’s transportation problems to further promote job growth in rural areas.”