COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — There is a growing effort to make sure all Ohioans are connected to broadband.

The IMAP award program is giving 410 Ohioans the opportunity to earn broadband or five-g credentials to help build up access across the state.

“We’re paying people to become broadband and 5G technicians in a matter of weeks,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said.

In six weeks, you could become a certified broadband technician and the state will reimburse you up to $3,000. Husted said with a broadband work force, the state becomes closer to providing access for everyone.

“I know if you live in a community that’s had WIFI and high-speed internet for years you’re like ‘are you kidding me,’” Husted said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t have access to it.”

“With competitive labor, which means education, it means broadband, it means having our work force ready to go, Ohio can be a very competitive and fun place to live,” CEO of Management Council of the Ohio Education Computer Network Geoffrey Andrews said.

Andrews said having access to broadband is a fundamental part of life in Ohio and across the United States. Husted said the state is investing $500 million to build out high speed internet to 240,000 Ohioans who do not currently have access.

“When you turn on the light switch you expect light, when you open the tap, you expect water to come out and when you turn on your phone or computer you expect broadband to come out and data to be available,” Andrews said.

“You can’t participate in the modern economy, healthcare or education system without access to high-speed internet,” Husted said.

Participating IMAP schools to earn broadband credentials are:

  • Ashland University
  • Tri-County Career Center
  • Washington County Joint Vocational School District
  • Youngstown State University

Learn more about the program and how to get involved here.

You can learn more about who’s eligible and apply to the Affordable Connectivity Program here.

This program ‘provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.’