The COVID-19 health crisis has highlighted many ways that our communities were unprepared for this kind of emergency. Maine has understood for some time that a lack of reliable internet access was limiting our employee recruitment efforts. In response to the pandemic, schools closed, and students, teachers, and parents worked to transition to remote learning, many found that they lacked adequate internet access. This gap in service limited many students’ participation in online learning opportunities.

Maine is full of innovators. We’re known for our Yankee ingenuity. Some students were able to drive to locations that had better internet access and could work from their cars. Schools, libraries and other institutions responded by placing WiFi access points closer to exterior walls and windows in order to serve this new need. Organizations like Network Maine worked with ConnectMaine to develop listings of places where learners could #studyfromcar. But these creative actions are not the long-term solutions we need.

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments has been working closely with organizations like ConnectMaine and Grow Smart Maine in order to provide more adequate and more reliable internet service for our state’s students and employees. Remote working, as we have all learned, is no longer a niche perk that some jobs offer.

To that end, we fully support the $15 million bond question that gives voters an opportunity to strengthen the economy, create new jobs, and build access to high speed internet, particularly in our rural area along the Kennebec Valley.

Our region’s economic vitality depends on high-speed internet in order to remain flexible and available in the face of our changing times. The broadband bond is a smart plan that focuses on rural Maine and helps us to close the gap with other parts of the state. It’s a smart investment that will help businesses grow and strengthen our economy.

Laura Cyr
executive director
Kennebec Valley Council of Governments

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