Kentucky has received billions of dollars for coronavirus relief to strengthen the struggling economy. Now it’s time to invest in the state’s future

By Lily McCoy, Communications Social Media Specialist, Connected Nation & Jessica Golson, Facilitator, Digital Works Fort Campbell 

Fort Campbell, KY (June 2, 2021) – At this moment, officials throughout the United States are working to develop recovery plans for their state under the new Emergency Relief Bill meant to stabilize a struggling economy. It would be an understatement to say that the workforce population has been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly every industry has experienced setbacks. I have heard it said several times now, if we do not do something significant to protect our country’s businesses, it will take a great deal more than money to recover from the fall.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, The U.S. Department of Treasury launched the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. These funds will provide billions in emergency funding for eligible state, local, territorial, and tribal governments. The state of Kentucky will receive $2.2 billionto help lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery.

Ever since the start of the pandemic, the importance of access to universal, high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband coverage has only grown. That’s why a portion of this funding will go to broadband expansion and will be focused primarily on last-mile infrastructure investments. However, assistance to households facing negative economic impacts due to COVID-19 is also an eligible use, including internet access or digital literacy assistance. 

With everything we know about today’s current workforce environment, we would be doing the residents of Kentucky a disservice if we did not focus energy and resources on connecting to the remote work industry. 

The remote workforce has grown exponentially since the pandemic limited in-person working environments across the globe. In the last decade, telecommuting has taken the workforce world by storm with over a 115% increase in remote work employment. Post-COVID numbers indicate nearly 4.5 million people in the U.S. alone are working from home at least 50% of the time, and with the 25% decrease in turnover employers are seeing after supporting remote employment, that trend is only going to continue to increase.

Residents of Kentucky can have the opportunity to access jobs around the globe without ever leaving their homes. That is why it is so important that everyone has access to broadband so they can receive the same opportunities as everyone else. With more Kentuckians employed remotely, it will have a huge impact on the state, stabilizing the economy, providing resources, and much more. 

Where there are problems, there are solutions — you just have to know where to look. The most obvious one I have found comes out of a small piece of Kentucky, Christian County. Outside of the Fort Campbell military base, you can find Digital Works. 

Actively helping people across the U.S. since 2013, Digital Works was originally designed to port remote jobs into small rural communities to provide economic relief in towns where large factories had pulled out, the economy had recently crashed, or employment opportunities were nearly impossible to find within a 50-mile radius. Digital Works, a training and placement assistance program from the Kentucky nonprofit Connected Nation, rolls into the town, sets up shop, and changes lives. In August of 2020, the program celebrated over 1,000 job placements in just over seven years, and they continue their mission today.

This vital resource is making waves in our state. Currently, the program is funded through various independent streams and grants that focus on strengthening the military community workforce, assisting veterans and their spouses and active-duty dependents in preparing for and finding their ideal remote work opportunity. Staff from the program vet and verify each of the vendors listed within their extensive community of employers, adding new employer options nearly every month. How could the rest of Kentucky benefit from this program? Easy. Digital Works has a long history of providing quality, relevant training to individuals who do not have a background in remote work. 

We need to be doing more than we are right now, and there are far too many amazing resources available to turn a blind eye to ones that will help stabilize the financial fluctuations of our state. Now is the time to move toward long-term sustainability, and programs like these are just one of the many ways to invest these funds. The results of today’s decisions to maximize these resources will result in tomorrow’s successes.

When it comes to the future of our homes, our livelihood, our community, and our state, what action can be taken to ensure our residents are not overlooked or left in despair when the money runs out? Invest now, invest in our people, and invest in more than just tomorrow. 

The time to take action is now! It is time to make a difference across our great state. These funds are not going to last forever, and the only way to make a difference is to take the necessary steps to invest in our future. 

For more information about Connected Nation, visit www.connectednation.hatfield.marketing

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