State Ag Officials Back Rural Broadband, Connect Michigan

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LANSING — The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development has formally expressed support for the growing movement to boost broadband capacity and adoption throughout rural Michigan.

On April 11, MCARD submitted a resolution to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Michigan’s U.S. Congressional delegation, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and the Michigan Legislature, supporting broadband development statewide. Connect Michigan and its parent organization, Connected Nation, were recognized in the resolution for outreach efforts to improve broadband telecommunications access and usage.

“I am excited about this additional support from MCARD to help to increase access to broadband in rural areas of Michigan,” said Robin Ancona, director of the Telecommunications Division of the Michigan Public Service Commission. “Awareness and information is key to advancing broadband to Michigan citizens and the Connect Michigan program in partnership with the Michigan Public Service Commission is a valuable tool to assist in this regard.”

Specifically, the resolution supports full access to advanced telecommunications and information services by all state citizens regardless of income, rural location, or high cost parameters.

The resolution cites Michigan’s food and agriculture industries as the state’s second largest economic driver and identifies rural economic development as a core element of community infrastructure throughout the state. “We appreciate the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voicing its support for Connect Michigan and our programs aimed at getting more communities connected and more schools, homes, and businesses online,” said Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan’s state program manager. “Access to broadband is critical for rural community development. Rural placemaking, workforce development, education, healthcare, and business expansion, retention, and attraction are all enabled and enriched by broadband.”

The resolution cites Connect Michigan’s business survey which shows that Michigan businesses with broadband Internet report median annual revenues 67 percent higher than businesses without broadband. This spotlights a huge economic opportunity if more of Michigan’s unserved households and businesses located in rural areas could access broadband.

“Michigan’s providers and agriculture sector are key drivers of the development of technology in rural areas in Michigan and we are proud to be a part of the solution,” said Frederick. “Our Connected community certification program provides local and regional technology assistance. I encourage other organizations to join MCARD in raising the awareness about this important effort.”

Through broadband mapping, education, and research, nonprofit Connect Michigan has been working on promoting broadband access, adoption, and use since 2009. Find out more at www.connectmi.org.

As a public-private partnership, Connect Michigan partners with technology-minded businesses, government entities and universities to accelerate technology in the state. The work of Connect Michigan is made possible by support from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

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