MARQUETTE — Marquette County is now the first certified Connected community in the Upper Peninsula and the 11th in the state.
The Marquette County Broadband Initiative worked with Connect Michigan, a broadband advocacy organization, to identify gaps in the local broadband landscape and establish goals for increasing high-speed Internet access, adoption, and use. It achieved the new certification through Connected Nation’s Connected Community Engagement Program.
Representatives of three community organizations led the MCBI collaboration with Connect Michigan — Robert Eslinger, director of Northern Michigan University’s Center for Rural Community and Economic Development; Caralee Swanberg, director of business development for the Lake Superior Community Partnership; and Thyra Karlstrom, Marquette County senior planner.
“Marquette County’s location, size, natural landscape, and scattered development pattern make it different from other counties,” Karlstrom said. “Those characteristics are also challenges to increasing high-speed Internet access, adoption, and use. Our community has a history of working together to stretch limited resources to their fullest potential. This certification is a symbol of our community’s hard work and dedication to improve our future.”
Said Elslinger: “Broadband has been recognized for a long time as something that we need to improve. This recognition demonstrates how a lot of people have been working on the issue in their own ways and really how those small pieces can fit together to make a big difference.”
Added Swanberg: “Broadband affects every aspect of our business and personal lives, making it a key priority in economic development. This certification is a great honor and tribute to our fantastic partners throughout the county who have been working on this issue for years.”
The new Marquette County Technology Action Plan sets general, community-wide broadband connectivity goals that will support economic development and residential quality of life. It also provides step-by-step action projects to ensure the goals are met.
Marquette County’s top priorities are to improve education through digital learning, establish programs supporting schools’ new technology initiatives, develop a business case for further broadband expansion and promote telemedicine in remote areas of the county.
Connect Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan Public Service Commission, is working to ensure that all Michiganders can experience the benefits of broadband. More at www.connectmi.org.