By Sarah Hagen
Gathering to celebrate Marquette County’s Connected community certification on February 13, 2015, from left are: Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Caralee Swanberg, director of business development for the Lake Superior Community Partnership; Thyra Karlstrom, Marquette County senior planner; and Robert Eslinger, director of Northern Michigan University’s Center for Rural Community and Economic Development.
Marquette County is now the first certified Connected community in the Upper Peninsula and the 11th in the Michigan. The Marquette County Broadband Initiative (MCBI) team worked with Connect Michigan to identify gaps in the local broadband landscape and establish goals for increasing high-speed Internet access, adoption, and use. It achieved the new certification through Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program.
Representatives of three community organizations led the MCBI collaboration with Connect Michigan: Robert Eslinger, director of Northern Michigan University’s Center for Rural Community and Economic Development; Caralee Swanberg, director of business development for the Lake Superior Community Partnership; and Thyra Karlstrom, Marquette County senior planner. Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, was the keynote speaker.
Marquette County also released its Technology Action Plan. This plan sets general, community-wide broadband connectivity goals that will support economic development and residential quality of life. It also provides step-by-step action projects to ensure the goals are met. Marquette County’s top priorities are to improve education through digital learning, establish programs supporting schools’ new technology initiatives, develop a business case for further broadband expansion, and promote telemedicine in remote areas of the county.
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