LaGrange, Ga.; Nevada, Mo.; and New York are among the top seven intelligent communities in the world, according to the New York-based World Teleport Association. The cities were awarded the designation by the trade association's Intelligent Community Forum, which studies the uses of broadband technology for economic development.

As one of the top seven intelligent communities, LaGrange is in this year's running for the organization's top award, Intelligent Community of the Year, which it won last year. Through relationships with BellSouth, ITC Holding and Charter Communications, the city has led construction of two broadband networks totaling over 200 route miles, which serve businesses, institutions and residents. Using that infrastructure, LaGrange, 60 miles southwest of Atlanta, began providing free high-speed Internet service and computer training for all 26,000 residents in 2000. Network operations generate more than $1 million in revenue for the city.

Nevada, a rural community about an hour's drive south of Kansas City, created the Nevada Telecommunity Development Corp. (NTDC) in 1995 to provide computer training to residents. The city's TeleCenter, which opened in 1997, houses two interactive video classrooms, a satellite downlinked classroom, a multimedia production room and five computer work stations for free Internet access. The NTDC has teamed with the University of Missouri to provide entrepreneurial training programs at the facility. New companies, including Internet Service Providers and Web page development firms, have been established in the city. As a result, local unemployment has dropped from 10 percent in 1991 to 2.2 percent in 2000.

New York began introducing programs to promote and extend the growth of the new media economy in 1995. Efforts included sponsoring a venture capital conference, offering $100 million worth of venture funds and introducing an incentive program for the development of broadband-connected office space. In 1999, the city introduced seed funding to encourage the collaboration of non-profit agencies, property owners and technology to develop and promote high-tech districts.

The three cities have been nominated along with Bario, Malaysia; Ennis, Ireland; Singapore; and Sunderland, England, for the 2001 Intelligent Community of the Year Award. The winner will be announced Oct. 5 in Hong Kong.