LaGrange Offers Citizens Free On-line Internet Education — The “Intelligent City” Partners with Mercer University to Break Down Tech Barriers

January 30, 2001

LAGRANGE, Ga., Jan 29, 2001 — The City of LaGrange, Georgia, the first U.S. city to offer free Internet access to its citizens via cable television, has taken another step in preparing its workers, students and residents for the Information Age.

City officials have formed an alliance with eMercer, the distance learning division of Mercer University, to offer on-line educational modules that build skills in keyboarding, e-mailing and Internet search and navigation. The programs are free to LaGrange citizens, who can access the training modules through their LaGrange Internet TV (LITV) systems. The training programs are interactive and participants can track and measure their progress throughout each course.

“We initiated this educational program as a logical next step to LaGrange Internet TV, which gives our citizens free Internet access through their cable televisions,” says Joe Maltese, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of LaGrange. “We’re committed to helping our workforce develop the skills and competencies needed to compete in a global economy.”

Up until now, LaGrange has been meeting the demand for Internet training by holding weekly classes at a senior citizens center and the local library and by asking LITV installers to run through the basics when installing the free Internet access on people’s cable televisions. “This new on-line training approach we’ve developed with eMercer is much more efficient,” says Mr. Maltese. “People can learn at their own pace in the comfort of their own homes.”

“The partnership between eMercer and the City of LaGrange is a perfect fit,” says retired Air Force Major General Richard N. Goddard, eMercer’s Executive Director of Technology Applications. “We specialize in creating online education and corporate training products and LaGrange is committed to developing a workforce and a general population that is technologically skilled. The LaGrange Internet TV initiative is an example of how innovative and forward-thinking the City’s leaders are. They’ve been willing to step out and take a chance and they deserve a great deal of credit for that.”

The three 15-minute training modules developed by eMercer and LaGrange can be used in any venue where there is Internet access through cable television. Because of this versatility, Mr. Maltese and General Goddard foresee their use in other locations both nationally and internationally. The three training programs include:

  • “Keyboarding Skills for Beginners,” which gives participants a

    familiarity with the position of the keys and their basic


  • “You’ve Got E-Mail!,” which teaches participants to send,

    receive, delete, save and forward e-mail messages.

  • “The Internet and You,” which teaches searching basics and

    additional skills such as how to bookmark sites for future

    reference and how to use hyperlinks. Participants are sent on

    an eight-item Internet “scavenger hunt” to hone navigation


LaGrange, Georgia, a town of 27,000, has received international recognition as the first U.S. city to offer free Internet access to its citizens via cable television. It was recently named the “Intelligent City of the Year” by the World Teleport Association for its Internet initiatives and advanced telecom infrastructure. The City also recently received a “Government Technology Leadership Award” from Government Technology magazine. LaGrange is located 60 miles southwest of Atlanta on I-85, commonly called the “Growth Corridor of the South.” An entrepreneurial city with no local property taxes, LaGrange is considered the economic center of a 150,000-person area stretching from West Georgia to East Alabama. LaGrange is home to more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other city its size. Additional information is available at

eMercer is the distance learning division of Mercer University, a 168-year-old comprehensive university with a main campus in Macon, Georgia, its Cecil B. Day Campus in Northeast Atlanta, and four off-campus centers within the State of Georgia in Douglas County, Covington, Griffin and Eastman. From its humble beginnings as a small liberal arts college, Mercer has grown to be the only independent university of its size in the country that offers programs in nine diversified fields of study including liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business and economics, engineering, theology, education and nursing. Mercer University has received national ranking as one of the leading colleges and universities in the South for 11 consecutive years. Additional information is available at and

Contact Information

Media Contact for City of LaGrange, Ga.

JoAnne Donner, 770/399-6626

Peter Mathon, 404/352-8015