On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) joined U.S. Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and others to outline how more than $2 million in new funds for Ohio broadband expansion will help stimulate new economic growth and create jobs.
Vice President Joe Biden late last week announced that Ohio will be one of the first states to receive funds through the USDA's Recovery Act broadband grant and loan programs. More than $7 billion in recovery funds will be invested in broadband projects, $2 billion of which will be made available on a "rolling" basis over the next few months.
According to Brown, broadband expansion will help small towns compete successfully in new business markets, creating jobs for Ohio families and new opportunities for business.
We hope lawmakers are able to utilize these funds to reach underserved areas in The Ohio Valley - not just fill in the gaps where service outside metropolitan areas is lacking.
The big challenge in providing rural broadband to underserviced areas of the state lies right here in the rolling hills of the Ohio Valley. While much of the state is relatively flat, reaching the nooks and crannies of the valleys has always been a challenge for service providers.
In fact, if our playing field - our terrain - was as level as Columbus, Cleveland or even much as rural Ohio, broadband access would likely be widely available through existing towers in our area right now.
Congressman Space has continued to be a champion for this cause. However, Ohio's riverside 6th Congressional District is home to the Appalachian foothills. We'd like to see U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson join others on the forefront of this fight to help thrust our underserved areas into the 21st century by bringing broadband access to everyone.