Microsoft to help expand rural broadband in 6 states, including Virginia

This July 3, 2014 photo shows Microsoft Corp. signage outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash. Microsoft on Thursday, July 17, 2014 announced it will lay off 18,000 workers over the next year. (AP Photo Ted S. Warren)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Microsoft says it will team up with communities in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Texas, Wyoming, Washington and Virginia in a program aimed at fostering economic growth in rural and smaller metropolitan areas.

Company president Brad Smith launched the TechSpark program Thursday in Fargo, a metropolitan area of more than 200,000 people that includes a Microsoft campus with about 1,500 employees. Smith says the six communities are different by design and not all have a Microsoft presence.

Smith says TechSpark is a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment meant to help teach computer science to students, expand rural broadband and create and fill jobs. North Dakota currently has more than 13,000 job openings.

The company has also selected Appleton, Wisconsin as one of the sites. The other communities will be announced later.

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