Being close in proximity to Fort Gordon, Clarks Hill Lake, and Interstate 20, McDuffie County expects more growth of new residents, larger industries, and commercial activity. Like most rural counties within Georgia, however, McDuffie has large portions where there is little-to-no access to internet.
“County residents have expressed overwhelming frustration with lack of internet in the unincorporated areas. Specifically, with the COVID-19 pandemic, children were most affected by the lack of internet in trying to stay connected to their online instruction,” said David Crawley, County Manager of McDuffie County.
Not only has the education system been affected, but the economic development sector has also been hindered by the inadequate broadband capability. A commitment to solving this issue was shown by the city through over $6 million of broadband improvement funding and adding a broadband component to the Comprehensive Plan’s work program.
With the recent designation application, McDuffie is now Broadband Ready. Cities and counties with this Broadband Ready designation have completed the online application and demonstrated compliance with the adoption of both a Comprehensive Plan, inclusive of the promotion of deployment broadband services, and the Broadband Model Ordinance.
“The process has helped provide direction to the staff and elected officials in charting a path forward for the next 10 years,” he said. “The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has been very helpful in providing assistance with the application process and moved swiftly in approving our application.”
Crawley states that the broadband access will benefit the city in bringing companies to the county and providing jobs that many rural residents need. The leadership and people of McDuffie understand that the expansion of medical services and educational institutions in the region needed investment into the broadband infrastructure.
On why other cities should apply for the designation, he shared that it shows a commitment to providing and improving a necessary service to citizens. Crawley adds, “This designation sets us apart from other communities because it shows we are dedicated to improving services for our children, our workforce, and the businesses in our community.”