DeAnna Holliday: High-speed broadband is a crucial investment for county

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic starkly illuminated the lack of high-speed broadband in sections of eastern and southeastern Ohio and amplified challenges for families and workers who do not have reliable internet.
Closing the digital divide is the key to lifting up countless communities and populations in unserved areas.

Access to broadband internet is essential in nearly every aspect of our modern economy. Lack of affordable, reliable internet has prevented millions from accessing vital health care, remote work and economic resources.

Unreliable internet access has also set countless children back in school because of connectivity issues while far too many schools remain closed. This is jeopardizing Ohio’s future.

Email newsletter signup

We have champions in Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted who understand this critical issue facing Eastern and Southeastern Ohioans.

Last month, as part of their “Innovate Ohio Broadband Plan,” DeWine and Husted announced new broadband expansion projects that will make affordable, high-speed internet available to nearly 100,000 Ohio households in 62 counties that do not currently have access to reliable internet connectivity.

In total, Broadband Ohio estimates that around 230,000 residents will have improved broadband availability thanks to the expansion projects. This will enhance economic growth in these communities and bring about new opportunities for residents.

Increasing access to broadband infrastructure in rural areas, and the digital assets and search tools that come with it, leads to higher property values, increased job and population growth, 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 we work together — at the federal, state and local levels — to ensure our children have the technology and tools they need at home to further their education; businesses have the high-speed internet connectivity they need to thrive and patients have access to telemedicine.

I applaud Gov. DeWine’s work to expand access for our rural and underserved areas.

This crucial investment in expanding access for our rural and unserved areas is not just a boon for businesses, but for children and students and Ohio’s workforce for generations to come.

I am encouraged that Gov. DeWine understand the importance of bridging the digital divide for Ohio’s economic prosperity and its future.

DeAnna Holliday is president of the Lawrence County Commission.