Broadband usage, access and affordability is increasingly becoming a hurdle for some families who understand the benefits all can experience from its availability. While technology improves all areas of life, its impact on the lives of students is becoming increasingly more crucial as the need for Internet access to even do homework outside of school hours is becoming a necessity. Access is also crucial in law enforcement, emergency medical situations and other aspects of public safety. Economic development efforts in local communities can sometimes hinge on the availability of high-speed broadband. Seeing this need and hoping to bridge the gap and level the playing field, especially for low income families, the Broad Bandits partnered with a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Connect South Carolina, which is a state affiliate of Connected Nation.
ConnectSC is striving, county by county, to bring together community leaders and the public with all broadband providers to expand the access and affordability of their broadband products. Several leaders in Spartanburg County have committed to making our area the next “Certified Connected” community in South Carolina among the 7-8 who have already earned that distinction. The seven school superintendents are on board and have provided a public co-champion of the endeavor from our ranks, Dr. Ron Garner, as well as pledging financial support to the effort. The private sector is being co-championed by Jon Miller, President and CEO of Denny’s Corporation. The Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce is working to provide partners from among their ranks.
The Broad Bandits’ project is two-fold: First, the team put together a nine-minute video portraying the issue from around Spartanburg County that was used at the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting to help gain their support on May 28. It will then be used at the Community Kick-Off meeting tentatively scheduled for June 30. Second, the group will sign up to work on either the Access or Affordability Committees doing volunteer work to help inform and motivate the providers. The ultimate goal reachable in 6-8 months from the Kick-Off is for Spartanburg to be deemed a “Certified Connected” community, thus ensuring our students and community can reap the benefits of a more widely available broadband capability.