RELEASE: Broadband Access Investment in PA — What it Means for Businesses, Health Care, Education, Jobs

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For Immediate Release
 
May 4, 2022
 
Contact: Kirstin Snow, snow@pennbpc.org

RELEASE: Broadband Access Investment in PA — what it means for businesses, healthcare, education, jobs

Event highlighted the profoundly transformative effects, opportunities of high-speed internet infrastructure for the Commonwealth and its residents, particularly in rural communities and in northeastern PA

Harrisburg, PA — Today the Keystone Research Center, the 99% PA campaign, ReImagine Appalachia, Action Together NEPA, and Building Back Together held a press conference, outlining the federal funding for broadband expansion that is coming to Pennsylvania through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), as well as identifying opportunities for additional funding and jobs if our state and local governments actively embrace it and propose innovative plans to expand it. Remarks focused on not only the implications for the entire state but particularly on the broadband challenges and opportunities in rural communities in northeastern PA.

SPEAKERS INCLUDED:
 
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district

Dr. Susan Boser, professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and life-long resident of rural areas

Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, executive director, Keystone Research Center and chair, ReImagine Appalachia

Speakers highlighted the challenges facing rural areas and other communities across Pennsylvania that do not have currently have access to reliable and affordable high-speed broadband, and discussed how the initial investment of $100 million in federal funding to expand the state’s broadband access will deliver a host of dividends. “Business and industry requires access to high-speed broadband in order to operate, and businesses will not come to these beautiful regions if they can’t conduct business,” said Dr. Susan Boser, a professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, whose work focuses on the impact that the lack of high-speed broadband access has on rural economies, education, and healthcare.

“If their people can’t be on Teams, if they can’t work with their supply chains and their businesses and do the things that they need to do, sales, etc., through access to high speed broadband, it won’t happen. The federal investment in broadband infrastructure is a gamechanger for rural areas.” “High-speed internet is a necessity nowadays when it comes to work, school, business, and even the delivery of health care services, but at least 394,000 Pennsylvanians lack access to broadband,” said U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright. “I’m really excited that Governor Tom Wolf and the commonwealth have taken on this challenge by establishing the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, because that puts the state in a good position to get and use that $100 million from the Broadband Equity Access & Deployment program.”

“The work of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority is something that shouldn’t be polarized,” stated Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, the executive director of the Keystone Research Center and chair of the ReImagine Appalachia multistate campaign. “The bipartisan bill provided the money, there’s bipartisan interest in Pennsylvania in using the money well, and business people and farmers in rural areas want high-quality, affordable broadband, just like the folks in low-income neighborhoods in cities do. We should be able to get this done through a collaborative effort, spanning rural and urban communities.”

A recording of the press conference is available here.

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