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Blog // Connect Michigan

Gull Lake Area Community Moving Forward With the Connect Community Program

By Wil Payton

Gull Lake is a popular and scenic body of water in southwestern Michigan, often cited as one of the state’s “largest water playgrounds.” Surrounded by six townships spanning three counties, the Gull Lake Area is also home to several championship level golf courses, quiet residential communities, and more rural areas.

Yet with all the regional amenities, several sections of the area remain unreachable by broadband, to the detriment of local residents and vacationers alike.

In January, 19 representatives from these six townships and local Internet service providers met at the Richland Township Hall to partner with Connect Michigan in the “Connected” community program, which provides a roadmap for assessing and planning for broadband improvements in a given community. 

“A group of local township officials, schools, libraries, and Internet service providers in the Gull Lake area have gathered to address the issue of lack of affordable and reliable Internet service in the rural areas of our townships,” said Marsha Drouin, Richland Township Treasurer.

Highlights from this meeting included:

  • An introduction of the Connect Michigan Connected Community Engagement Program and processes
  • Review broadband maps, research data, and issues regarding the Gull Lake community broadband infrastructure
  • Establishing a schedule and work plan for going forward

After convening the team and reviewing initial maps and data from Connect Michigan, a more detailed survey of local residents was developed and is now being distributed across the townships.

Specific action items identified at the meeting included:

  • Identifying/adding team members
  • Developing a residential survey to provide more details on broadband coverage and lack of access
  • Conducting surveys of township governments regarding broadband access and speeds
  • Gathering data on existing local public computing centers and digital literacy programs

Public institutions such as libraries and government offices will also provide public access to the survey for those interested in participating. Results from the survey will be used to identify specific areas where broadband access is a problem and the team will work with those residents and local service providers to seek solutions.

While the initial focus will be on local “access” issues, the Gull Lake Area Broadband Committee will also work to help increase the adoption and use of broadband through increased awareness, education, and training on the value of broadband to both residents and local businesses.

“With many of our schools and many of our residents needing Internet service at their residences to work and stay informed, the Gull Lake Area Broadband Committee was formed with the help of Connect Michigan to explore this issue,” said Drouin. “We’re now conducting a survey of our residents and organizations so they can help be part of the solution.”

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