High speed, reliable internet access is fundamental to our ability to educate our children, deliver quality health services, support local businesses, and make our communities attractive places to live and visit.  As a presenter at the 2017 Cool & Connected workshop in Millinocket put it:  “Access to high-speed internet service won’t guarantee economic or community success, but the absence of high-speed internet service will make long-term economic development impossible.”

telehealth Broadband program story Maine WestRural communities across the Northern Forest, and across the country, are struggling to secure high speed internet service to support local businesses and families.

To help address this widespread challenge, the Center worked with Community Concepts Finance Corp, Axiom Technologies and other members of the Maine West collaborative in spring 2017 to secure a $78,000 grant from the ConnectME Authority and launch a regional Broadband Access and Adoption planning process for 27 communities across northern Oxford County in Maine.  When completed, the Maine West Broadband Plan will provide:
  • A Community Technology Plan for improving broadband access and adoption challenges across the Maine West area;

  • Town-by-town recommendations for addressing community-level broadband goals and priorities; and

  • Recommendations for improving digital literacy and adoption through education, training, public access and affordable computers.

To prepare for this work, the Center and its partners conducted extensive surveys of residents and business owners, met with local broadband planning teams to identify community priorities across the Maine West area, and hosted a regional broadband forum to better understand shared priorities across the project area.

Read our blog post on Community Revitalization in Lancaster, NH.