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Ogemaw County Certified in Connected Community Engagement Program

West Branch, MI. (July 1, 2014) – Connect Michigan applauds the efforts of Ogemaw County for achieving certification under Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program.

Results from a community technology assessment undertaken by the county, along with strategies for broadband expansion, were released today at the Michigan Works Building in West Branch.

“We are very excited to have achieved broadband certification because having high-speed Internet is so critical for business attraction and residential life,” said Mandi Chasey, director of business and economic services for Ogemaw County. “We also want tourists to enjoy all that Ogemaw County has to offer, including all of our natural resources, but we don’t want them to feel they have to give up amenities they are used to having in the city. To be clear, we are ecstatic about the progress we have made, but there is still much work to do.”

Ogemaw County’s top goals from the new plan include completing an assets inventory, creating local jobs through teleworking opportunities, developing programs that support technology initiatives in Ogemaw County schools, and hosting website and social media classes for local businesses. The new plan will give the community step-by-step action items to accomplish these objectives.

To obtain Connected certification, Ogemaw County had to meet certain benchmark scores based on the National Broadband Plan that demonstrate it is a technologically advanced community.

The team received its first technology plan in September 2013 with a non-certification score of 79/120.

It then successfully launched a broadband survey that received over 1,400 responses and created a solid business case for providers to expand their broadband services in the county.

Under the direction of the team champion and working together with several community organizations, the community was able to increase the number of digital literacy training classes such as Techie Tuesdays, which is a customized digital literacy training program offered by the West Branch Public Library that has trained over 190 residents on various technology subjects in the past year.

The community has also offered a number of social media training programs for local businesses, and on May 7, the county held its first Technology Summit.

By making efficient use of the recommended actions in the technology action plan, Ogemaw County increased its Connected score to 106/120 and achieved certification status.

“Broadband certification is a great accolade for Ogemaw County as a whole,” said Emily Boersen, director of the West Branch Public Library. “Working within the West Branch District Library, I see every day the importance of providing cost-effective, reliable, accessible Internet services to anyone who walks through our door. Expanding the reach of these services throughout our county can only help residents through improved access to information.”