Wert County, Ohio is officially a Connect Ohio certified Connected community. Currently eight Ohio communities are involved in some stage of the Connected program, but Van Wert is Ohio’s first to achieve the official Connected certification, and the 9th community in the nation to earn this certification. The occasion was marked with a public event Wednesday, August 21, at the County Annex Building in Van Wert. The Van Wert Broadband Planning Committee was presented with its official Connected trophy announcing the community’s official designation.
“Connect Ohio has been very beneficial for Van Wert County in bringing city and county officials together to create goals that will and have benefitted residents and visitors of Van Wert County,” said Kim Brandt, 911 coordinator for Van Wert County. “With the help of Connect Ohio, Van Wert County officials from the City of Van Wert, Van Wert County, Van Wert City Schools, and 911, have worked together to connect buildings and improve services with fiber. The work we have completed together this year will continue to cut down on city and county expenses which in turn save taxpayer dollars.”
Developed by Connected Nation, the Connected 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. The broadband coverage of the area was measured using Connect Ohio’s broadband availability maps and survey research. The Van Wert Technology Action Plan unveiled at the event includes projects to expand digital literacy, build awareness for the benefits of broadband, and assist businesses with websites and social media, as well as improving the online presence of local governments, among other entities.
“Being certified as an official Connected community is a huge step in the right direction for the future of Van Wert,” said Connect Ohio Executive Director Stu Johnson. “As the first Ohio community to earn this certification, we’re excited to see the beginning of a very important shift sweeping across our state. Through the Connected initiative, Van Wert is the first of many Ohio communities that are ready to welcome a bright and prosperous future by making sure our state is ready to support our current residents and businesses by making sure there is access to the global economy and all of the education, health, government, and other countless benefits that quality high-speed Internet allows.”
Van Wert’s Connected Certification comes after 6 months of the local Broadband Planning Committee working with Connect Ohio to assess the broadband landscape, identify gaps, and establish actionable goals and objectives. The certification is an important benchmark as the team now phases into working its newly established long-term community broadband plan. The Connected program is part of the Connect Ohio initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce NTIA State Broadband Initiative (SBI) program.
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