WARSAW — The Kosciusko County Economic Development Corporation is seeking to establish a group that will focus on improving broadband access in the county.
KEDCo CEO Alan Tio and Terry Burnworth, owner of Pyramid Consulting, Indianapolis, hosted a meeting at the Justice Building with local elected officials Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Tio discussed the steps necessary for the county to become broadband-ready certified. That designation, Tio said, would provide the county with a boost in its mission to increase access to broadband.
Tio said in order for a region to become certified, the following steps are needed:
- appointment of a single point of contact for all matters related to broadband development
- establishment of procedures to allow for the electronic submission of all forms, applications and documentation required for a broadband development project
- require all permit applications be approved or denied within 10 business days after they are filed
- assure that all inspections related to a broadband project will be completed in a timely manner
Tio stressed the importance of broadband infrastructure throughout the county in order for existing businesses to be successful, as well as to draw in new residents and retain current ones.
According to Tio, access to broadband is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity. Tio suggested forming a consortium to begin discussions about how to move forward.
The lack of broadband in some parts of Kosciusko County has been an issue for area school districts.
Brad Hagg, chief technology officer at Warsaw Schools, Blaine Conley, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation superintendent and Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation, all said they would be happy to be part of the consortium.
“I’ll just tell you, I”m all in,” Hagg said. “As chief technology officer for Warsaw Community Schools, I’ll do whatever you guys need me to do to help support this. This is actually one of my goals in the school district is to increase broadband in our community for our rural folks, so I’m 100 percent in.”
“I think we would like to be part of this because our students would benefit,” Edington said. He referenced issues related to eLearning because roughly 20 percent of students are unable to take their computers home and complete school work on a regular basis due to lack of connectivity.
“If we could have it consistent so that all of our students would be able to continue their studies at home — that is the future,” Edington said.
“The important thing is to put together a small consortium or task force to bring together business, education and government to figure out how we can serve different communities based on their needs,” Tio said. “We just want to gather people together to start a discussion to see who’s interested, if anybody is interested and make sure we’re on the right track and that this is an issue people want to pay attention to.”