COLUMBUS, OHIO – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager today to outline how $7.2 billion in economic recovery funds will promote economic development through broadband expansion.
“If we want to promote economic development throughout Ohio, we need to ensure that businesses and households have broadband access,” Brown said. “That’s why I fought to pass critical rural broadband funds in the economic recovery package. Small towns and rural communities have been overlooked for too long. We have an obligation to fight the so-called ‘digital divide’ between urban and rural communities – the future of our state depends on it.”
Brown successfully fought to include $7.2 billion in the economic recovery package to expand broadband access in unserved and underserved communities. The funds are expected to create jobs and promote long-term economic growth while encouraging investment in infrastructure and technology.
Today, Brown hosted a first-of-its kind summit connecting potential Ohio broadband providers with the USDA officials responsible for rural development. Ohio has a unique opportunity to utilize a portion of $7.2 billion in funds, but potential providers must apply for funds by August 14. Application information can be found at http://broadbandusa.sc.egov.usda.gov/.
The higher cost of providing broadband access in less-populated areas has created a “digital divide,” undermining economic development and online educational opportunities in rural communities. A 2006 MIT study found that communities with wide access to broadband experienced faster job growth and new business development. A later report by the Brookings Institution found that for every one percent of increased broadband access, a state could expect 0.2-0.3 percent growth in employment. The median revenue among broadband-connected businesses in Ohio grew twice as fast as those that do not use broadband, according to a study by ConnectOhio.