Best of the West: Improving rural broadband; aerospace manufacturing takes off; happiest states

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Sept. 10, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: Pew Research Center

More than 23 million rural Americans lack broadband internet access, and roughly six-in-ten rural Americans (58%) believe access to high speed internet is a problem in their area, according to Pew Research Center.

Western states are taking steps to close the “digital divide” created by limited infrastructure and resources in rural communities. In New Mexico, a local electric cooperative could serve as a national model to connect more residents to business and education opportunities. Idaho received an FCC grant to expand broadband in underserved areas, and Montana schools are working to leverage federal and state funding.

“Providing our students with access to high-quality digital learning helps set them up for success in our increasingly digital world,” said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Western Governors are seeking a partnership with the Rural Utilities Service to deliver broadband service to rural western communities in a cost-effective manner.

Taking Flight: According to the annual aerospace manufacturing attractiveness ranking report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Washington, Texas, Arizona and Colorado rank in the top five U.S. states for promising development. Washington topped the state ranking this year, with high marks in the categories of industry, infrastructure, and economy.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy: The West is home to seven of the top 10 happiest states, according to a study by WalletHub. Hawaii took the top spot, with Utah, North Dakota, California, Idaho, South Dakota and Nebraska rounding out the list. Find the full rankings and methodology here.

Going Home: Native American artifacts and human remains will be returned to tribes using funding from the National Park Service. Four institutions in Colorado and Utah will return thousands of items including “everything from baskets and bowls, dresses and bows and arrows, moccasins, clubs and masks, jars and baskets.”

Go Fish! Native Yellowstone cutthroat trout are making a comeback in Wyoming after non-native predatory species were introduced 1990s. In Colorado, the San Juan cutthroat trout, once thought to be extinct, was recently rediscovered in the southwest part of the state.

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