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Broadband key to Ohio’s future

Say what you will about the federal government’s stimulus program, the initiative to improve Ohio’s Internet and broadband access will open countless doors — literally and figuratively — across the state.

It was announced Wednesday that Ohio will receive $118 million in federal funds for three separate projects that are all designed to increase broadband Internet access, public accessibility to computers and implement training programs to educate citizens. “Comprehensive Internet access is one part of our strategy to lay the groundwork for Ohio’s long-term economic growth and improve Ohio’s business environment. … access to high-speed Internet is increasingly essential for businesses and is a gateway to connecting our students with the world,” Gov. Ted Strickland said.

One project is for northeast Ohio. Another is for Appalachia and will include linking together 212 healthcare facilities, 25 community colleges, 15 universities, 231 schools, 34 county public safety answering centers, 32 MARCS towers and 34 industrial parks.

The third project funded will provide free computer training courses at public libraries and educational institutions across the state, create more than 100 jobs immediately and provide more than 2,000 computers to public access points.

Some critics may try to belittle this project as nothing more than money wasted for people to surf the Net, send e-mail and waste away time on social networking sites like Facebook.

Those objections are rooted in the past, centering around closed-minded thinking and fail to grasp the concept of a global economy in the 21st Century.

The Internet has changed the way we live, changed the way we learn and changed the way we do business.

Every citizen and business deserves access to the technology that can pave the way toward a new Ohio.