Regional Committee Chugs Forward With Broadband Improvement Effort

By: Shawn Magrath

CHENANGO COUNTY - A newly formed regional committee composed of planning and economic development leaders from four neighboring counties, including Chenango, is making headway in an effort to bring better broadband internet to remote areas.

Spearheaded by Southern Tier 8, a regional planning agency that supports economic development in the eastern portion of New York’s Southern Tier, the new committee believes a regional approach will be more effective than each county taking on the problem of shoddy internet alone.

Chenango County Planning Director Shane Butler is part of that committee.

“We’re moving ahead pretty quickly,” said Butler, noting three meetings held by committee members in just as many months. “Funders want to see a regional approach rather than town by town or county by county. So if we could do it all in one swipe, it would be great. They want to see that.”

Rural areas have been hit especially hard since New York State schools and businesses shut down in March, making it difficult for businesses, schools, governments, and courts to function. In response, Chenango County has joined ranks with Broome, Cortland, and Delaware counties to gather data that may give them an edge when applying for state and federal funding to improve broadband.

“We’re talking with leaders now in each county so that they can give us more information on where their internet is not good,” said Butler. “We always want to compile data so that when we write this grant application, we can justify it. We want to apply for a regional grant with hopes of more funding opportunities.”

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