Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that seven teams from nine counties will participate in the second cohort of the BroadbandOhio Community Accelerator program.

The accelerator program is intended to help Ohio communities create localized broadband expansion plans. It is led by the Ohio Department of Development’s BroadbandOhio and The Ohio State University Extension Office.

“Empowering our communities with tools to effectively embrace broadband expansion is not just an investment in technology, but an investment in the collective growth of our great state,” the governor said.

Communities participating in the accelerator receive individualized support to identify broadband goals, gather data, understand available funding options, target capital dollars to support implementation, and expand workforce development.

“In a world driven by connectivity, the ability to make the most of these resources is more than an advantage – it’s a necessity for participating in the modern economy,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. “The expertise gained through the Community Accelerator program will help local communities with their broadband expansion goals, providing more opportunity for the Ohioans living in these regions.”

The governor’s office said that teams from Ashtabula County, Henry County, Lucas County, Monroe County, Paulding County, Union County, and a combined team representing Hocking, Athens, and Perry counties will participate in the second cohort of the program.

“At the heart of every successful broadband expansion project are the community leaders working tirelessly to close the digital divide at the local level,” said Ohio Department of Development Director Lydia Mihalik. “We’ve already seen how this program has inspired the teams that participated in last year’s cohort, and we’re looking forward to even more success stories coming from this second group in the near future.”

Last year, four teams participated in the inaugural cohort of the accelerator program, representing 11 counties across the state.

“We consider broadband essential infrastructure, just like water and electric services, but it is a complex issue and understanding the barriers we face in our region was a challenge,” said Gina Collinsworth, who led the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) team representing Adams, Brown, Clermont, Lawrence, Scioto, and Vinton counties last year.

“In addition to all the helpful education and expertise we gained through the program, the testimonies from people in communities with proven, on-the-ground successes were the most valuable,” she said. “The examples they brought to the group helped us visualize how to apply their solutions in our own communities. Now, one year later, we are seeing success stories in our own region.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs