Rains County, TX (November 20, 2019) – On a cold and rainy day in Emory, Texas, Connected Nation launched its first Community Engagement of 23. In a gorgeously restored courtroom of the Rains County Courthouse, Tom Stephenson and Jennifer Harris of Connected Nation Texas, Rains County Judge Wayne Wolfe, and Jamie Baker of Congressman John Ratcliffe’s office welcomed a diverse group of local stakeholders to discuss the importance of broadband and start down the path of connecting the community.
According to the most recent data from the FCC, somewhere between 80-95 percent of the residents of Rains County do not have access to high-speed internet, commonly referred to as broadband. Statewide, more than 2 million Texans do not have access to broadband, including nearly one in three rural Texans.
Over $5.1 billion in potential economic benefit is left unrealized among disconnected Texas households. Between 2014 and 2017, small businesses in rural Texas missed out on $6.16 billion in annual sales and 21,675 jobs because they were disconnected. Telehealth could help the rapidly shrinking number of rural Texas hospitals and their patients save more than $20 million in travel and healthcare costs annually.
The first step in realizing these and other benefits is to understand specifically where broadband is and where it’s not, and who is affected. Connected Nation Texas is excited to learn about the unique challenges and opportunities available for Rains County. Through a community survey that will be conducted over the next several weeks, we will learn about residential broadband access (and quality) and the needs of the business community, healthcare facilities, schools, libraries, agricultural operations, and much more. With this data, we will help Rains County to create a Community Technology Plan and move much closer to realizing the benefits of living in a connected community.
Connected Nation Texas is incredibly impressed with the wide array of stakeholders who attended the kick-off meeting, as well as their work to get full community participation in the community broadband survey. We look forward to digging into the results and helping Rains County prioritize and achieve their goals.
Connected Nation Texas will be engaging in the same way in 23 communities across the state over the next two-plus years. If you are interested in learning more about our work in Texas or want to discuss becoming a Connected Community, reach out to State Director Jennifer Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Jennifer Harris is the State Program Director for Connected Nation Texas. She is responsible for managing the development and implementation of broadband strategies throughout the state. She creates and maintains partnerships by engaging with communities, local municipalities, and state and federal government. This includes working to close the Digital Divide in rural parts of the Lone Star State.
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