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In my role helping communities for Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC), I see firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a lot of issues in the rural heart of Northern Maine. The need for young kids to get access to online education when in-person schooling was delayed. The need for families to connect over virtual platforms when they hadn’t seen their loved ones for so long. The need for all individuals to seek medical treatments for ongoing or new health concerns they experienced without being able to be seen at a local facility by a professional. And, of course, the need for remote workers to plug back into the global digital world, and power the economy right from the comforts of their own homes, in places they feel more connected to living.
These are the changes that have been felt across the nation, and certainly in our northern region of the country. Now that we have felt them, it is time to move forward together with a solution. Broadband is changing the playing field for rural areas. It affords small towns the opportunity to retain or attract young workers looking for a better quality of life. With advancements in internet infrastructure, businesses can grow to scale, competing in the larger economy and supporting local jobs. Better connectivity will support local communities as a whole, increasing property values, enhancing education, spurring local investments and boosting innovation. It’s not about any one person, it’s about everyone, and it’s about making the connection to the place we call home stronger.