Demographics Business Relocation

Collaborative Effort Toward 100% High Speed Internet Begins in Benzie/Manistee Counties

06-Jun-2016

Manistee and Benzie County –  A partnership effort involving Manistee and Benzie Counties and the State of Michigan, backed by the support of the Alliance for Economic Success (AES) and Networks Northwest is underway with a goal of extending high speed internet service to all four corners of these rural, northwest Michigan Counties. 

“While progress has been made, we have large areas in both counties that are either underserved or not served with high speed internet or broadband capacity and that spells trouble for businesses, residents, visitors and others who need to stay connected with the rest of the world,” said AES Community Development Director Tamara Buswinka. 

The two counties are joining with Connect Michigan in the Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, Public Service Commission and their “Connected Community” program to assess high speed internet or broadband accessibility in Manistee and Benzie County, and establish a plan to address broadband needs. Connect Michigan is asking the public to complete a survey to identify existing resources that are being used to provide access and use of broadband technology in local homes and businesses.

The survey is open through September 14, 2016 and takes ten minutes to complete. You can take the survey as a resident, business owner or designated representative of an organization. The survey is online:  for Benzie County go to: www.connectmycommunity.org/benzie-county. For Manistee County go to:  www.connectmycommunity.org/manistee-county.

Hard copy surveys are also available from any township, city or village office in Manistee and Benzie County as well as the Manistee or Benzie County Courthouse.  You may also use your smart phone to take the survey.

“We need public input through the completion of these surveys to develop plans to address needs in Manistee and Benzie Counties,” said Dan Manning, Community Technology Advisor for Connect Michigan. “Our ‘Connected Community’ program also includes a certification program to formally recognize those communities that excel in being connected with broadband based on their demonstrated success with broadband access, adoption and use.”

Manning said that the baseline information is essential to moving ahead with a plan to address the broadband needs in the two counties.

“Broadband is critical for businesses and home users and for the overall competitiveness of our communities,” said Coury Carland, Benzie County Board of Commissioners. “Our area has a diverse landscape - urban, suburban and rural.  Each presents unique infrastructure challenges and opportunities.  Knowing the current access options and service gaps will help us plan for the future.”

The jobs market of the future in Manistee and Benzie County relies on robust technology. “Business access to broadband today is just as critical as access to traditional infrastructure like roads, water, and power,” said Betsy Evans, Business Development Director, AES.   “For our communities to be competitive, the two counties need fast, reliable access to broadband.  It’s an imperative.”