Barnwell, S.C. (December 1, 2017) – The Lowcountry Promise Zone Broadband Team has plotted a path that can bring high-speed internet access, adoption, and use to more families, businesses, and communities in the six-county region.
“This team spent months completing a comprehensive community assessment to identify ways to improve access to broadband and other technologies,” said Jim Stritzinger, Director of Connect South Carolina, a local subsidiary of Connected Nation. “The Technology Action Plan we developed from that work is a blueprint for how to improve the quality of life for all and how to restart the economic engine of the Promise Zone.”
Representatives from the SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance, USDA Rural Development Office, internet service providers, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were on hand as Connected Nation unveiled the plan to stakeholders by summarizing the findings detailed within the 84-page document.
“With an estimated poverty rate of about 28%, and an unemployment rate of just under 15%, there is no question that the Lowcountry Promise Zone deserves sustained, visionary, and focused leadership,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who attended the November 27 event in Barnwell, S.C.
“Each of you is here because not only do you recognize this, but you refuse to accept inaction,” Clyburn added. “It makes absolute sense, that your top-line transformational idea for incenting positive change in the Promise Zone is bringing high-speed, affordable broadband to citizens throughout these counties.”
The broadband team worked with area school districts, chambers of commerce, residents, internet service providers, and others to better understand the needs within the region. Then, using CN’s Connected Community Engagement Program, a detailed analysis was completed and a Technology Action Plan was developed which identified priority steps toward improving access, adoption, and use.
Through this analysis the following groups have been identified as struggling the most with digital inclusion in the Promise Zone:
- Households with income less than $50,000
- Adults without a college degree
- Adults age 55 and older
- Households without school-age children
- Unemployed adults
- Households with active or retired military personnel
“What this tells us is that those who would benefit, perhaps the most, from being better connected don’t have the option,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman and CEO of Connected Nation. “We see this across the country—people being left out of opportunities to improve their lives whether through education, jobs, or access to healthcare. These are families living in poverty, our nation’s veterans, and our grandmothers and grandfathers, among others, who are being left out of opportunities the rest of us enjoy.”
“This affirms what you know well—that broadband is no longer a luxury; it is essential in our daily lives,” said Commissioner Clyburn. “Broadband is the gateway through which many Lowcountry residents and businesses obtain critical information, find jobs, stay connected with teachers and healthcare providers, and keep up-to-date with family and friends. But, as I have often said, and your report affirms, deployment is only part of the equation. We must put a spotlight on affordability, because it is those in the lowest income brackets that are the least likely to adopt broadband and it is those least able to afford broadband who stand to benefit the most.”
Read the full Technology Action Plan now which lays out the findings and the top priorities for improving access, adoption, and use as identified by the Lowcountry Promise Zone Broadband Team. This assessment was funded by a USDA grant obtained by the SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance.
To read Commissioner Clyburn’s full remarks, click here.
Communications Manager, Connected Nation
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