Friday, February 10, 2012

County leaders work to boost area’s broadband access, adoption and use

A new plan is in the works to stimulate growth in the area economy and enhance the quality of life for Charlevoix County residents through increased access, adoption, and use of broadband technology. Leaders of Charlevoix County are working to identify technology needs and opportunities by becoming a participant in Connect Michigan’s Connected community certification program.
  “Representatives from governments, schools, libraries, and chambers of commerce throughout Charlevoix County are teaming up with the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, the Michigan Public Service Commission and their Connect Michigan program to encourage increased broadband system development and usage in the county,” said Michael Cain, city manager for Boyne City. “We have been working to increase broadband availability in our communities and throughout the entire county for several years and are excited by this new approach offered by Connect Michigan.”
  Charlevoix is a county with lush landscapes and abundant water resources. Many are attracted to the area, but are technologically challenged — particularly in rural areas — because of limited options for broadband services due to natural topographical barriers and a highly dispersed population base, which makes it difficult for providers to make a business case for expanding their networks.
  "The Northern Lakes Economic Alliance hopes to help local communities further the dissemination of broadband throughout the county and region” said Jan Kellogg, NLEA economic development specialist.  “We feel that by working together with Connect Michigan we will be able to identify collaborations and activities that will lead to better broadband coverage and usage."
  “Through this program communities across Michigan are aiming to accelerate the access, adoption, and use of technology to foster an environment that is ripe for improving the economic, educational, healthcare, and governmental resources available to residents and businesses,” said Eric Frederick, Program Manager for Connect Michigan. “The Connected program will help Charlevoix County build awareness of broadband’s benefits and expedite broadband development.”
  Connect Michigan’s community engagement program will guide Charlevoix County through an assessment of its overall broadband and technology status, using criteria that parent organization Connected Nation has developed as a “community certification” model. The program helps train regional team leaders and supports the formation of community planning teams made up of various sector representatives with the goal of creating an actionable plan for expanding the access, adoption, and use of broadband. 
  “Broadband is a great tool, but only if you know how it can help you and have it available,” said Cain. “Connect Michigan is offering all of us in Charlevoix County a great opportunity to work on both the supply and demand ends of broadband and we are looking forward to taking advantage of it.”
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About Connect Michigan:  As a public-private partnership, Connect Michigan partners with technology-minded businesses, government entities and universities to accelerate technology in the state. The work of Connect Michigan is made possible by support from the Michigan Public Service Commission. For more information about what Connect Michigan is doing to accelerate technology in Michigan’s communities, visit
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