Gladwin county officials said the county has struggled with internet access barriers for years. Now they have been awarded the latest Michigan certified connected status.
The status means the county met internet access goals and offers a variety of service providers to 95 percent of the county.
Officials said even though Gladwin is certified, they will keep improving broadband access. They said they are working on overcoming physical barriers like valleys and a scattered population.
Bob Balzer is the Director of Business and Economic Development for Gladwin County. He said Gladwin is one of 14 certified communities in the state, and one of 43 in the nation.
“They have like a 30-point scale that they rate you on. ‘Are you offering public hotspots?’, ‘Are you offering training in schools?’ and stuff like that. So all these things added up to meeting their program guidelines saying that we are a certified broadband community,” Balzer said.
He said the new status is a boon for economic development.
“I believe that Gladwin County is going to grow one business and one employee at a time,” Balzer said, “It’s going to allow home-based businesses to be out in the rural community and thrive which they’ve never been able to do because they couldn’t do business from home.”
He said they plan to use creative ways to bring internet into remote and underserved areas.
“We’re going to work with the townships to map out all of the vertical assets, all the towers all the antennas. And I didn’t realize this but even silos and things like that that could be used to put broadband hardware on. So we need to map those out,” Balzer said.
He said Gladwin officials are also making mentor programs where youth teach older adults how to use things like cell phones and GPS. He said even though Gladwin is certified, they will continue to work to expand access for residents.
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Connect Michigan County Info http://www.connectmi.org/community_profile/find_your_county/michigan/alcona