EDA CARES Act Funding to Help Bridge the Digital Divide
Thanks to the EDA CARES Act funding, OVRDC was able to join with regional partners to contract Tom Reid and the Reid Consulting Group to develop research and strategy on improving broadband access in our area. Reid also partnered with OVRDC and other Appalachian Ohio organizations to form the “Connecting Appalachia” initiative, which educates the public on the lack of access to broadband within the region and advocates for common-sense solutions to the digital divide.
Connecting Appalachia describes itself as “a consortium of local governments, regional economic development councils, and industry professionals with a single focus: increased economic opportunity for Appalachia by expanding access to quality, affordable broadband.”
In July 2021, Connecting Appalachia unveiled a new map based on its Rural Broadband Survey which revealed that half of all populated areas in Ohio access the internet at less than 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps up. This research emphasizes the need for increased resources for building up Ohio’s broadband infrastructure.
At our February 2021 Executive Committee Meeting, Tom Reid was the guest speaker. Reid discussed broadband initiatives and shared that Ohio’s least connected region – the 32 Appalachian counties in the southeast portion of the state – is home to 80% of unserved households, further widening regional inequities and economic disparities. Reid’s presentation can be viewed below.
At the May 2021 Executive Committee meeting, we asked members and concerned citizens to participate in Connecting Appalachia’s broadband survey in order to compile information on the current state of upload and download speeds. Connecting Appalachia continues to collect this data as part of its Rural Broadband Survey. To learn about how you can participate in this study, visit Connecting Appalachia’s website.