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Recent News // News Release: Antrim County Joins Innovative Broadband Expansion Effort

Monday, April 23, 2012

Leaders enlist in Michigan’s Connected program to bridge technology gap, boost economy, and seed ground for innovations

Bellaire, MI – Antrim leaders have enrolled their community in an innovative program that seeks to boost the local economy and quality of life for residents though increased access, adoption, and use of broadband.

The hilly nature of Antrim’s rural geography — particularly in the eastern part of the county —presents a significant challenge because it makes wireless transmissions ineffective. From an adoption perspective, not all of the municipalities have seen a demonstrable need to spend money on broadband. Part of the Connected effort will be to communicate the importance of broadband access.

A major step forward in closing the digital divide came when officials decided to enroll in the Connected community certification program through Connect Michigan.

In March, staff from Connect Michigan, the statewide nonprofit promoting broadband expansion, led Antrim leaders through the steps of the new Connected community certification program that offers a comprehensive and localized way for communities to bridge the digital divide.

At the kickoff meeting, the group reviewed broadband data prepared by the Connect Michigan team to learn what was available in the county and to assess the need and access statistics in rural Michigan. Additionally, the group discussed the importance of bringing broadband to the county and how it will be crucial to the area’s economic development in the next number of years.

County planners Pete Garwood and Joe Meyers are leading the newly formed Antrim County Broadband Committee, which met again on April 10. Janet Koch is functioning as the team media leader.

“The group has begun designating committee heads and organizing assessment teams to reach out to specific sectors of the community,” said Bellaire Clerk/Planner Janet Koch. “Our objective is to gain additional information and to find out what access needs are out there.”

The Connected certification program entails building a comprehensive action plan for developing a technology-ready community by reviewing the technology landscape, developing regional partnerships, establishing local teams, and conducting a thorough community assessment.

At the kickoff meeting, the group reviewed broadband data prepared by the Connect Michigan team to learn what was available in the county and to assess the need and access statistics in rural Michigan. Additionally, the group discussed the importance of bringing broadband to the county and how it will be crucial to the area’s economic development in the next number of years.

“Ultimately we hope to bring broadband access to every resident and every business in the county,” said Koch. “That may be a far reaching grasp but the goal is to get this kind of access to everyone.”

The next committee meeting is set for June 5 when the assessment data of the county’s twenty-first century broadband infrastructure will be collected for evaluation and review and a broadband plan for technology deployment, use, and literacy enhancement in Antrim County will be developed by the Connect Michigan team.

Download the Press Release