YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted visited Youngstown Wednesday and had a set agenda to discuss broadband expansion.
He attended a roundtable discussion on the topic at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber office, and he visited a few locations around town.
East Gate Regional Council of Governments talked about what they could do to help with high speed internet access in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
Husted believes that access to working internet can give people opportunities to move forward in life.
“I want people to live their version of the American dream. One of the things that Governor DeWine and I often talk about is how we need to give young children a better start in life. That we need to give people access to a great education and economic opportunity through jobs, but if you don’t have access to the internet, your opportunities have been limited,” Husted said.
Husted also says they are trying to work with the lawmakers to get a bill passed that will help fund this project. He said he hopes that lawmakers will restore the funding and remove the prohibitive language that doesn’t allow for private and public partnerships for internet access.
“It would make Ohio a backwards-looking state if we don’t get this done. Failure is not an option on this one. We’re going to stay a course until we get this done,” Husted said.
He says that this is a fundamental infrastructure issue that must be resolved.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people and entire communities that are left out of the modern economy, education, healthcare system without it and they have been voicing their concerns to the members of the legislator… and I think the legislator is very receptive to those changes,” Husted said.
When asked about a timeline for the project, Husted said that he cannot give a clear timeline, but they are at the beginning of this process. He said that the affordability of internet access is a top priority.
“No doubt we have to tackle the affordability piece, because if we can’t afford it, you might as well not have access to it. It’s the same thing, and we need to do both,” Husted said.
Husted shared a personal account about how the house he grew up in did not have the same access to information that people in cities have. He said that he believes everyone should have access to opportunities.
“The house I grew up in, you couldn’t get high speed internet today, which means that I wouldn’t be able to get access to the global network of information,” Husted said.
After the roundtable, Husted toured M7 Technologies on Ohio Works Drive and talked about how the TechCred program has helped them.