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Webinar Highlights Broadband’s Role in Revitalizing Main Street

Thu, October 24, 2019

BroadbandUSA’s October webinar, “Broadband’s Role in Revitalizing Main Street,” showcased innovative efforts that governments, universities, and providers are undertaking to expand broadband access and use to revitalize their communities. The speakers each emphasized the importance of clarifying the goals a community is trying to meet in order to best identify the resources necessary to meet those goals.

Michael Burns discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP). This program pairs underserved communities with local college and university students to deliver planning and program technical assistance to address identified needs in the community. Since broadband access is essential to revitalizing these communities, it is an integral component of the planning process. The program is a “win-win,” as the communities benefit by receiving no-cost, quality technical assistance and planning while the students gain valuable experience and academic credit.

MainStreet21, an interdisciplinary research project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and co-directed by Mona El Khafif and Tho Nguyen at the University of Virginia, discussed their work on smart and connected communities (SCC) solutions for medium to small sized under-connected communitiesin Virginia. The project blends policy, design, and technology to develop applications with community stakeholders.

Fletcher Kitteridge, the CEO of GWI, an Internet service provider offering fiber to small towns in Maine, spoke about how broadband connectivity has transformed the company’s service area, leading to a resurgence in the growth of previously shrinking communities. He discussed the importance of continually evaluating the network to ensure it is meeting the community’s evolving needs.

To listen to an archive of the webinar, visit the BroadbandUSA website. BroadbandUSA hosts monthly webinars on broadband access and utilization. Follow us @ntia.gov to learn more.