Oregon is expected to receive nearly $700 million to expand broadband access to rural and underserved areas in the state.
The office held public hearings around the state to learn from community members how the lack of reliable broadband has affected them, as well as what they would like to see. Nick Batz, director of the office, believes this funding will have a big impact for rural communities that have not had access to high-speed internet.
“The age-old question for rural communities since we’ve moved on from natural resource economics is: ‘What jobs do we have for our young people? How do we get kids to move back to communities they grew up in after they’ve graduated high school?’ A lot of folks we’ve talked to around the state see broadband as the key.”
Surveys and research conducted by the office will be used to help construct a five-year action plan that will guide how the federal money is spent. The office has a deadline in December to deliver a plan to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for review.
It’s historic,” Batz said. “It’s not every day, we get $688.9 million for broadband deployment in the state of Oregon.”
Nick Batz joined OPB’s Think Out Loud to discuss the broadband access funding with guest host Geoff Norcross. You can listen to the full conversation here: