S1 E2 Pt. 1: The Tech Multiplier Effect

Welcome to the Ninety-Seven, where we believe rural America is the next place to pioneer

When we can’t afford to build a hospital in every community of 2,000 people, we need telemedicine. When we are forced to do our homework and teach from home, we need online schooling. And to keep our economy moving, we need to telework. And if we want our economy to grow, we need housing, art, culture, restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, daycare centers, recreation – big city stuff.

And to connect it all, we need a simple cable that every urban-dweller enjoys – fiber.

In Part 1, we discuss what is known as the ‘tech multiplier effect’ and its impact on rural communities, as well as the innovative projects and ideas that are already occurring and taking shape in those same communities.

You can check out Part 2 here, where we will share how you can help Congressman Khanna pass a $100B broadband bill that was just introduced by Congressman Jim Clyburne of South Carolina. That’s 100, with a B.


  • Congressman Ro Khanna  |  California’s 17th Congressional District
  • Charles Ashley III  |  CEO + Founder, Cultivating Coders
  • Kagan Coughlin  |  Co-founder, Base Camp Coding Academy
  • Larry Irving  |  CEO, Irving Group
  • Jim L. Estep  |  President + CEO, High Technology Foundation
  • Music provided by Keifer and Scott | Algona, Iowa



ongressman Ro Khanna represents California’s 17th Congressional District, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and is serving in his second term.

Rep. Khanna is committed to representing the people and ideas rooted in Silicon Valley to the nation and throughout the world. For each job created in the high-tech industry, another four jobs are created.

Rep. Khanna was born in Philadelphia, PA, during America’s bicentennial, to a middle-class family. Both of his parents immigrated to the United States in the 1970s from India in search of opportunity and a better life for their children.

Rep. Khanna graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago and received a law degree from Yale University. As a student at the University of Chicago, he walked precincts during Barack Obama’s first campaign for the Illinois Senate in 1996. In his free time, Rep. Khanna enjoys cheering for the Golden State Warriors, watching movies, and traveling. He and his wife Ritu call Fremont, CA, home.

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harles Ashley III is CEO & Founder of Cultivating Coders, a New Mexico based company that provides technical training and curriculum in web and mobile application development to K-12 schools in tribal, rural, and overlooked urban areas that lack resources in coding and computer science education.

Prior to his current role, Charles was a Marketing & Strategy Consultant for several clients including Harmonix Technologies, VARA Wines, and DeVry University. He previously served as Film Liaison & Marketing Manager for Bernalillo County’s Economic Development Department in New Mexico and was Manager of Marketing for CNM’s STEMulus Center.

Charles is equal parts successful businessman and compassionate community advocate. Charles is the type of person who can identify a better way to do something and then execute on it. For this reason, he’s hopeful that his compassion for educational opportunity, combined with his business acumen, can contribute to the positive growth in overlooked communities.

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n 2015 Kagan Coughlin and Glen Evans, president of FNC/CoreLogic, launched Base Camp Coding Academy in Water Valley, MS. BCCA is a nonprofit educational initiative that provides an innovative, one-year coding curriculum to under-advantaged Mississippi youth, at no charge. This intense, hands-on course accepts a small class of students directly out of high school and delivers over 2,000 hours of instruction over the course of 1 year. Upon course completion course graduates are fully trained as level-1 software developers and enter the workforce with partnering regional employers. Visit www.basecampcodingacademy.org for more information.

In 2019 Kagan and Glen began work on Everest, Mississippi’s First Rural Education and Innovation Hub, one of the most financially complicated public/private collaborations the state of Mississippi has ever seen.  Weaving together funds from private sector tech leaders, grants from five federal agencies, and five different tax credit programs, Everest is repurposing a former garment factory into the gateway for Mississippi’s rural population to access careers in technology.  

 Kagan Coughlin spent 10 years in finance and technology with Fannie Mae and FNC / CoreLogic. He and his wife Alexe van Beuren have spent the past 14 years working in historic preservation and creative economy initiatives in Mississippi.



arry Irving, CEO of the Irving Group, a technology consulting firm,  produced the first empirical study proving the existence of the “Digital Divide.” This groundbreaking research sparked global interest in digital equity issues and continues to be widely cited today.

As  assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) during the Clinton Administration, Irving helped establish some of the earliest and most foundational U.S. domestic and international Internet policies

Irving is a graduate of Northwestern University and serves on the University’s Board of Trustees, and Stanford Law School. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Education Networks of America. In September 2019, Irving was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his work identifying and advocating solutions to the “Digital Divide.” He is the first African American elected to the Internet Hall of Fame.




ames L. Estep has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the High Technology Foundation since June of 2000. The High Technology Foundation’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for the growth of a regional knowledge sector.  The flagship of the High Technology Foundation efforts is the development of the I-79 Technology Park in Fairmont, West Virginia. Under Mr. Estep’s leadership, the I-79 Technology Park has expanded to almost 400 acres and over 800,000 square feet of Class A office and lab space. Mr. Estep’s recruitment efforts at the park have established a strong basis for a knowledge sector business case in West Virginia. Since 2018 alone, contracting opportunities at the I-79 Technology Park have exceeded $650 million.

Mr. Estep is active in several business and technology efforts around the state and serves as a current Board Member and past Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex. He earned a master’s degree in computer science from West Virginia University (WVU) and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the West Virginia Institute of Technology.

A native of Braxton County, Mr. Estep resides in Morgantown with his wife Melissa. They have three children and two grandchildren.

James Estep: LinkedIn  |  Twitter

High Technology Foundation: Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Twitter

MEET Keifer and Scott


rtists Keifer Brandt and Scott Larsen are over a decade into their partnership and are happy to play music anywhere, anytime, and for any occasion.

Born and raised in Algona, Iowa, Keifer now calls Des Moines, IA his home. Scott lives with his wife and four children in Algona.

Dynamic and diverse, the set-list is comprised of covers and originals spanning decades of musical styles and genres. Utilizing technology, they can produce a full band sound in the compact and efficient form of a duo acoustic act.

Music Venues, Bars, Resorts, Weddings, Back yards, Living Rooms, or Live Streams, they are available to entertain

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