Over 50 businesses, non-profits, and community organizations from Iosco County attended Showcase Iosco in Tawas City, Michigan, on Thursday, October 13, 2016, moving the county toward completion of its Technology Action Plan and one step closer to Connected certification. Showcase Iosco highlighted community and economic development through technology and brought residents from surrounding towns and villages to the area to learn more about resources available, and the forward momentum generated in the county.
Iosco County is one of 17 Michigan counties working through its Technology Action Plan and hopefully will soon join the 18 Michigan Connected communities. Connected certification is awarded to communities that meet or exceed broadband access, adoption, and use standards based on FCC benchmarks. Certification requires active community involvement to improve broadband resources and Internet adoption, including educating residents, making public Wi-Fi available, mapping existing resources, and more. Hosting a technology summit was one of the county’s Technology Action Plan objectives, and the community involvement of Showcase Iosco proves the area’s enthusiasm and willingness to work together to make improvements.
“When we (Connect Michigan) first came, less than 50% of rural businesses had websites,” said Tom Stephenson, Connect Michigan Community Technology Advisor, at the opening of Showcase Iosco. With a large emphasis on tourism in this lakeshore county, Iosco County businesses benefit from free marketing through business websites and social media. A class presented by Google Maps in Tawas City helped local businesses take advantage of online resources, joining more than 65% of Michigan businesses that now use a website.
“We’re thrilled with the success of Showcase Iosco,” said Shelley Buresh, Managing Director at the Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses from Oscoda, Tawas, Standish, Au Gres, and even some from outside the county came to do vendor booths and also for the educational component. This is a huge opportunity for education and also to showcase our organizations and businesses.”
The completed broadband survey and broadband map of Iosco County shown at the event revealed a need for expanded broadband resources, particularly in rural areas.
“We still have a lot of work to do in Iosco County, and a lot of build-out that still needs to happen,” said Stephenson. With businesses as well as residents showing enthusiasm to get online, and survey results that show residents are looking for reliable Internet, local ISPs can now make a business case for expansion in the area.
To learn more about community development through technology all over the nation, visit www.connectmycommunity.org.
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