Two Ohio State Senators – one Republican, one Democrat – plan to introduce legislation to create a grant program modeled after the Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program, based on the state’s plan to expand broadband in rural areas. Community Networks reports the Ohio grant program is expected to expand broadband internet access to approximately 14,000 rural households per year; currently, an estimated 300,000 homes and 88,500 businesses in rural areas don’t have access to broadband connectivity.
According to Republican Sen. Cliff Hite, “We are woefully behind in expanding broadband access in the State of Ohio, including my district. This legislation is crucial for improving a situation that will continue to be a problem for many of my constituents if something is not done.”
The draft bill allocates $50 million per year for broadband development, funded by the state’s Ohio Third Frontier bond revenues, a state economic development initiative aimed at boosting tech companies that are in initial stages and helping diverse startups. The grants will be awarded up to $5 million for infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved areas; the grants cannot fund more than half the cost of each project. Recipients can include businesses, non-profits, co-ops, or political subdivisions, reports Community Networks.
According to Democratic Sen. Joe Schiavoni, “This legislation is incredibly important to Ohio’s future. Without access to broadband internet service, businesses can’t reach their customers, students can’t do their homework and workers have difficulty searching for jobs.”
Published September 14, 2017