In Ohio, we’re making high-speed internet access a priority. Projects across the region received POWER funding from the Appalachian Region Commission (ARC), and in 2020, Ohio projects totaled $ 2.68 million in awards. Through the Office of BroadbandOhio, we take a local and collaborative approach, engaging local leaders and industry partners. We know that what works in Marietta may not work in Coshocton, but by working together we can find the right solutions.
Additionally, with over $ 200 million in the state budget, we recently launched the Residential Broadband Expansion Grant, which will help service providers increase access in unserved and underserved areas. served by the state. Access to high-speed internet is important to Ohio’s future, and the efforts of the CRA and the statewide are positioning the region for better access.
Workforce and economic development are key priorities for our state, and our business assistance programs have focused on success in the Appalachian region. Our Small Business Development Centers have provided services to over 2,000 businesses and entrepreneurs in Appalachia in the past year of the program, and our Export Support Network and Technical Purchasing Support Centers have local offices in the 32 county area.
Substance abuse is one of the challenges our country – and in particular the Appalachians – faces. As I was recently co-chair of the CRA, I wanted to address this issue. Our team from the Appalachian Governor’s Office conducted listening sessions throughout the 32-county region to learn about the challenges our citizens face at the local level. As a result of ARC’s work and our local listening sessions, ARC formed the INvestments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems, or INSPIRE – a $ 10 million initiative to address this crisis. The program helps people recover and gives them the support they need to re-enter the workforce. In Ohio, projects such as the Recovery Ecosystem Expansion Initiative and the Southern Ohio Employer Resource Network have received funding through INSPIRE to address drug addiction in their areas.