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Broadband is backbone of Ohio economic development, job growth

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Delaware County's efforts to extend new broadband fiber along a 12-mile corridor are both a reminder of the economic necessity of broadband in Ohio and a cautionary tale for other communities.

The lesson? Be ready when new industry comes calling.

"If there was a crucial moment in Delaware history, it was when we worked on bringing in Motorists," says Gus Comstock, Delaware County's economic development director.

Motorists Insurance Group, which considered several sites late last year for a new $14 million data center, ultimately announced in May that it would locate its center in New Albany.

"We could talk about water, sewer, gas and the benefits of living in Delaware -- but we couldn't provide a good description of the availability of fiber," explains Comstock. "We were caught flat-footed."

As the county now discusses options for installing new fiber to serve growing parts of the U.S. 23 business corridor, the economic reality of broadband in central Ohio reflects the need across the state, says Tom Fritz, executive director of Connect Ohio.

"A seven percent (increase) in residential adoption of broadband means the addition of 96,000 new jobs," he says, quoting a recent economic impact study of the issue. "And companies that use broadband grow at a much faster rate than those who don't use broadband."

Connect Ohio, a public-private partnership focused on broadband access, also found that a 7 percent adoption increase in a stable economy contributes $5 billion annually to the state's economy.

Sources: Gus Comstock, Tom Fritz
Writer: Gene Monteith

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