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Initiative strives to ensure high-speed internet access

Grand Rapids Businesss Journal | November 11, 2016 | By Tim Mroz

The Right Place, and other economic development colleagues in West Michigan are partnering with Connect Michigan and its “Connected Community” program to complete broadband connectivity and quality assessments for each of the 13 counties in the region. The effort is tied to a larger initiative currently led by Connect Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan Public Service Commission, to ensure all Michiganders have access to fast, reliable broadband. Connect Michigan’s mission is to increase high-speed internet access, adoption and use to diversify the economy and ensure Michigan’s competitiveness in the connected global economy of the 21st century.

The Right Place and the Ionia County Economic Alliance (ICEA) presented at a monthly township meeting about ICEA, The Right Place and the Ionia Broadband Advisory Committee. The Committee currently is meeting with Ionia County internet providers to discuss the results of business and residential surveys. The committee is composed of representatives from the Ionia ISD, Chamber of Commerce, Montcalm Community College, health care, library system and banking.

The committee also is currently working with Connect Michigan to develop an Action Plan that is expected to be completed at the end of 2016 or early 2017. This Action Plan will guide and prioritize future investments in Ionia County. At this point, Ionia County is not yet considered a “Certified” Connected Community based on their scores.

Kent County recently has completed several broadband surveys across the county to support their assessment. This assessment now is being reviewed and “scored” by Connect Michigan and Connected Nation and plans are being made to recognize Kent County as a Certified Connected Community early in 2017.

Connect Michigan’s Dan Manning presented the broadband survey results to the Montcalm Economic Alliance over the summer. Montcalm County scored high enough to apply for Certified Connected Community status with Connected Nation, anticipating an announcement in early 2017.

As part of the application process for Connected Community status, a report was generated to identify opportunities for even better enhancement of broadband in the county.

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