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Residents asked to complete internet survey

WOODSFIELD — Monroe County officials hope to secure grant funding to expand broadband internet capabilities within the county, but first they need local residents’ input to move forward with the project.

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners and economic development officials are working to gather information to support the need for increased internet availability.

Commissioner Carl Davis said the survey will help identify which areas are most in need of internet access.

The county is being assisted by the Hamman Consulting Group in obtaining the potential grant funding. Jason Hamman, economic development consultant with Hamman Consulting and economic development representative for the county, said the amount of the grant funding will be determined based on the results of the surveys and which areas will need more focus.

“We’re going to be looking for different grant funding to help improve that (internet) access,” Hamman said. “Right now we’re still working on putting together the final project scope. Part of that will be based on what the identified needs are.”

Hamman said the project is currently focused along the riverfront including in Clarington, Hannibal and Sardis.

“That’s where a lot of the industrial activity is as well,” he said.

Hamman said the residents participating in the survey will aid the county in the project scope, pinpointing which areas are most in need of internet accessibility.

“If there’s a certain area in the county that has better or worse broadband availability then that could change the project scope. We just have to see what the service looks like and then prioritize where to target the investments for the grant funding,” he said.

The economic development team has developed a seven-question survey that will be distributed throughout the county to businesses, industries and residents for input.

“The goal of the internet survey is to gauge local interest, need and to provide real data to support future grant applications that may be available to help fund increased speeds or expanding internet service” Hamman said.

According to the August “Bringing Broadband to Appalachian Ohio” strategic report prepared by the Southeast Ohio Community Leaders Coalition: “Overall, Ohio is ranked only 37th in internet connectivity with the least connected region being the 32 Appalachian counties in the southeast portion of the state, home to 80 percent of the unserved households. While other fiscal and capital needs remain, broadband is the infrastructure issue with both the biggest deficit and the biggest potential for helping this portion of Ohio to advance.”

All county residents are encouraged to participate in the survey. It is available on the county’s website at monroecountyohio.com under the Economic Development tab. Paper copies of the survey are also available and can be returned to the county commissioners in Room 34 at 101 N. Main St. in Woodsfield or by email at econdev@monroecountyohio.com.

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