Statement about Connect Ohio
Since 2008, Connect Ohio’s mission has always been to help bring internet access, adoption, and use to all Ohioans. Revealing a gap in coverage that could impact public safety, giving local residents and state officials a realistic view of the broadband landscape, and providing the programs and oversight that a study from The Ohio State University (OSU) says are desperately needed in the Buckeye State are just some of the ways in which we’ve accomplished this mission.
The OSU study entitled Connecting the Dots of Ohio’s Broadband Policy examined the Digital Divide in the state of Ohio and found that more than one million people still do not have adequate access, and, if they did, it would mean as much as a $2 billion impact, conservatively, for Ohio’s families and businesses.
The Ohio State study cited Connect Ohio as a neutral third party that can provide solutions and “coordinate various cross-sector stakeholders” while providing a “vital resource by collecting Ohio’s broadband data, analyzing it, and making it accessible to state policymakers.” It also identified our digital literacy and job training program, Digital Works, as providing another service needed in the state.
In alignment with this research, Connect Ohio’s work includes:
• Completing an in-depth mapping update of Ohio’s broadband landscape.
• Assisting Ohio lawmakers in interpreting federal policy, trends, and opportunities and helping to guide Ohio policy.
• Facilitating Connected Community Engagement Programs to assist with broadband planning.
• Convening broadband stakeholders, community anchor institutions, providers, local agencies, legislators, and businesses to analyze, plan, and implement enhanced and new broadband deployment throughout Ohio.
• Collaborating with libraries, schools, non-profits, and community action organizations to form a network of over 400 locations to deliver Every Citizen Online a free 6-hour basic computer and internet training program to over 43,000 Ohioans.
• Providing digital skills, job readiness training, placement assistance, and ongoing mentorship and creating over 870 careers for graduates of our Digital Works program.
What’s next for Ohio?
Recent articles in Money Magazine and BizWomen recently named Ohio among the top states for tech workers in America and claimed that Ohio is on its way to surpassing Silicon Valley with 3 cities in the top 20: Cincinnati (11), Columbus (12), and Cleveland (14). Those tech workers need adequate internet access and training to continue to grow the state; yet, one million Ohioans still do not have broadband access and are missing out on job opportunities in the growing tech sector.
Ohio risks remaining behind in the development of a comprehensive broadband strategy and needs to appoint an organization with the proven resources necessary to execute such strategy.
We believe that everyone belongs in a Connected Nation and hope to find renewed opportunities to continue our work with local communities, local leaders, and state lawmakers to make that a reality in the Buckeye State.