The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief the lack of broadband in parts of eastern and southeastern Ohio and amplified the challenges for families and workers who lack a Reliable internet.
Bridging the digital divide is key to uplifting countless communities and populations in underserved areas.
High-speed Internet access is essential in almost every aspect of our modern economy. The lack of affordable and reliable internet has prevented millions of people from accessing vital healthcare, remote work and economic resources.
Unreliable internet access has also sent countless children back to school due to connectivity issues, while far too many schools remain closed. This jeopardizes the future of Ohio.
We have champions in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, who understand this critical issue facing the people of eastern and southeastern Ohio.
Last month, as part of their “Innovate Ohio Broadband Plan,” DeWine and Husted announced new broadband expansion plans that will make available to nearly 100,000 Ohio households in 62 counties that don’t do not currently have access to reliable Internet connectivity. .
In total, Broadband Ohio estimates that approximately 230,000 residents will benefit from improved broadband availability as a result of the expansion projects. This will stimulate economic growth in these communities and create new opportunities for residents.
Improved access to broadband infrastructure in rural areas, and the accompanying digital assets and search tools, lead to increased property values, increased market growth, employment and population, higher rates of new business creation and lower unemployment rates.
As America competes in an increasingly digitized economy, rural communities cannot be left behind. It’s time for us to work together – at the federal, state and local levels – to ensure that our children have the technology and tools they need at home to continue their education; businesses have the high-speed Internet connectivity they need to thrive, and patients have access to telemedicine.
I applaud Governor DeWine’s work to expand access to our rural and underserved areas.
This crucial investment in expanding access to our rural and unserved areas is not only a boon for businesses, but also for Ohio’s children, students and workforce for generations to come.
I am encouraged that Governor DeWine understands the importance of closing the digital divide to Ohio’s economic prosperity and its future.
DeAnna Holliday is Chair of the Lawrence County Commission.