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Houghton County Recognized as Certified Connected Community

Houghton County, MI. (June 18, 2015) – Today, State Representative Scott Dianda, the Houghton County Technology Planning Team and Connect Michigan present Houghton County as a certified Connected community and release its Technology Action Plan.

“There has been a need to validate broadband demand to develop a business case for further expansion of broadband in Houghton County,” shared Cheryl Fahrner, Executive Director, Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber has been actively involved in the process to meet the needs of our area and is currently facilitating Internet safety classes, including the development and identification of broadband training awareness programs for small and medium businesses. The Chamber will continue to collaborate with area partners and identify opportunities to support and advance this initiative.”

Houghton County has been working since August 2014 with Connect Michigan on the Connected Community Engagement Program. This initiative assesses the local broadband landscape, identifies connectivity gaps, and establishes technology-driven goals and objectives to increase broadband access, adoption, and use for families, organizations, and businesses throughout the community.

More than 50 communities are engaged in the Connected program throughout the Great Lakes State. Houghton County joins fourteen others that have achieved Connected certification through the program. Broadband adoption rates in Connected Certified communities are six percentage points higher than the statewide average and a full fifteen percentage points higher than the national average. Additionally, businesses in communities participating in the Connected program in Michigan have higher rates of website adoption than the state average. More than 1,600 local leaders have been involved in the program throughout the state since its beginning in 2011.

“The Technology Action Plan we’ve been working on sets general community-wide broadband connectivity goals to work toward that will support economic development and residential quality of life,” said Kim Stoker, Executive Director, Western U.P. Planning & Development Region. “The new plan gives us step-by-step action items to make sure that we meet those goals. The plan will also support future broadband expansion and programs in our area to maintain widespread Internet access, adoption, and use.”

Houghton County is well underway in addressing technology in the community. A partnership between Michigan Technological University and the Portage Lake District Library matches volunteer student mentors with trainees looking to expand their digital literacy on a wide variety of devices and applications. “It’s important because it lets people empower themselves to go forth, explore, and acquire new material,” said Shawn Leche, Director of the Portage Lake District Library. Read more about this unique collaboration here.

“Thanks to the leadership of the Houghton County Technology Planning Team, Houghton County is now a certified Connected community,” said Eric Frederick, VP for Community Affairs for Connect Michigan and Connected Nation. “This means that Houghton County has a comprehensive plan for using technology to make a difference for families, businesses, and the community. Connected Nation and Connect Michigan are honored to be partners in Houghton County’s vision for using broadband to improve lives.”

For questions about the Connected Community Engagement Program in Michigan, please contact