WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressmen Dave Joyce (OH-14) announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award $125,000 to Summit County to support the development of additional and enhanced broadband services for Akron, Ohio, a designated Opportunity Zone. This funding comes from the CARES Act, which Joyce voted for last year. The CARES Act provided EDA with a total of $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has made the need for expanded broadband connectivity painfully obvious, but the benefits associated with meeting that need are undeniable,” said Joyce. “When we increase access to broadband, we not only help communities meet new work, health and education needs created by the pandemic, but we also boost economic productivity, create good jobs, and help our local economies generate savings. I applaud the Economic Development Administration for helping Northeast Ohio expand its broadband capabilities with this grant and will continue to do everything I can to provide the resources necessary to expand broadband access, lower costs, and make it easier for our communities to install the physical infrastructure required to connect homes, schools, businesses and medical facilities to the broadband they need.”
While Ohio is ranked in the top 20 states for broadband connectivity, more than 300,000 Buckeye households lack access to high-speed internet. A 2019 study across eight Ohio counties found that in rural areas with 20 or fewer households per square mile, 80% to 90% of households have no access to broadband whatsoever.
This EDA funding will help Summit County conduct an assessment of existing fiber assets, an evaluation of market conditions and demand, the identification of potential industry partners, the investigation of interjurisdictional and other relevant legal issues, options for a phased construction approach, and geographical analysis and recommended fiber routes. Once implemented, this strategy will establish the analytical foundation for critical broadband infrastructure development in the area and help guide local leaders and stakeholders as they make the region more resilient to future economic shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can learn more about Joyce’s efforts to support broadband expansion in the Buckeye State here.