By Ashley Spinks, Communications Coordinator, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association
February 6, 2019
The final day of this year's Rural Telecom Industry Meeting and Expo began with a fun and moving Excellence Awards ceremony during which NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield recognized nine members who achieved excellence in 2018 in their industries and communities. Following the ceremony and breakfast, NTCA Board Chairman Kevin Beyer conducted the Business Session, during which the Chairman's Report was delivered, as well as reports on NTCA's financials, the Services Management Corporation, and the activities of NTCA's various committees.
NTCA Board Secretary-Treasurer Fred Johnson welcomed everyone to the Closing General Session at 10 a.m., and then introduced Foundation for Rural Service Executive Director Jessica Golden to "Celebrate FRS." Carri Bennett, chair of the FRS board of directors, delivered remarks summarizing the progress that the foundation has made in the past 25 years. Bennett also announced that her law firm, Womble Bond Dickinson, would increase its donation of grant funds from $15,000 to $25,000 this year, in honor of the foundation's 25th anniversary. Don Bitz, a board director for Triangle Communications (Havre, Mont.) and longtime liaison between the NTCA Board of Directors and FRS, also announced his funding of a scholarship for rural students who have embodied the value of faith.
The celebration of FRS was followed by panel moderated by NTCA Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs and Business Development Michael Romano on "The Industry in 2030." Panelists Vern Dosch (CEO of NISC), Roxie Mayberry (Director of MTA) and Jeff Leslie (CEO of ITS Fiber) discussed issues such as investment in employee benefits and education, new revenue streams and how the Internet of Things will continue to place demands on rural broadband networks into the future.
The keynote speaker for the closing session was Robyn Benincasa, a world-class adventure racer who used her experiences in sport to shape and offer advice to the managers of rural telcos. Finally, the session closed with a financial report from Sheldon Petersen, CEO of the Rural Telephone Finance Corporation (RTFC).
NTCA members departed New Orleans Wednesday afternoon after a very successful conference. RTIME 2020 will be held in Phoenix, Arizona.