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Recent News // Southwest Michigan Region Launches Key Broadband Initiative

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lawrence, MI – In an effort to address the current and future needs of residents, educators, businesses and governments in southwest Michigan, a diverse group of local leaders have teamed with Connect Michigan to launch the Southwest Regional Broadband Initiative. Recognizing the critical impact that high-speed Internet, has on improving local economies and personal quality of life, the Southwest Michigan Regional Planning Commission is sponsoring this initiative to expand broadband access and use across Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties.

At their kickoff meeting on July 24 in Lawrence, MI, more than 30 representatives from various economic development organizations, schools and colleges, local governments, workforce development, Internet service providers, and others came together in support of this effort and were introduced to Connect Michigan’s Connected community engagement program as a roadmap for guiding their progress.

Initial steps will include establishing specific goals and objectives for the team, identifying current key broadband concerns, and conducting an assessment of the region’s current broadband profile.

The three-county Southwest Michigan Region spans a wide range of geographic and demographic areas, from larger urban centers to sparsely populated rural communities and from shoreline destinations to farmlands. While this diversity brings its own challenges for planning, the pressing need for modern communication and access to information and services is consistent. John Egelhaaf, executive director of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, explains it this way: “It is rare for an issue to transcend numerous areas of focus but broadband does that with impacts in economic development, education, community health, transportation, quality of life, and others. Fortunately, the team of stakeholders who have stepped up in support of this effort is impressively diverse.”

“The Connect Michigan program will allow residents to access information and communicate more efficiently, which will open up a world of opportunities for our community,” said State Sen. John Proos. “Most importantly, this initiative has the potential to create jobs and stimulate our Southwest Michigan economy.”

The Southwest Michigan Regional Broadband Initiative team, with support from Connect Michigan, will be meeting regularly to plan for and address broadband improvements to benefit their local residents and businesses.