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  • Writer's pictureHealthy Sustainable Communities

Bridging the Digital Divide in Oregon: Sandy Oregon's Model for Sustainable Broadband and Economic Development

Updated: Jan 27

A brodband tower in a forest, showcasing Oregon's economic development initiatives to provide technology to rural areas.

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, accessible and affordable broadband has become a necessity for the well-being of communities. Oregon, like many other states, faces challenges in ensuring widespread broadband access, particularly in rural areas. This blog explores the success story of Sandy, Oregon, and how establishing their own broadband infrastructure can serve as a blueprint for other communities. Moreover, we'll delve into the funding opportunities available today for communities looking to bridge the digital divide.


The Current State of Broadband in Oregon:

Despite the significant economic benefits of broadband, a substantial number of Oregonians, approximately 400,000, still lack internet access at home. This gap affects various aspects of life, including education, generational transition, economic development, agriculture, public health, public safety, energy management, e-government, and network interconnection.


Unlocking Oregon Economic Development through Broadband Expansion:

Investing in broadband infrastructure is not just about providing internet access; it's a catalyst for comprehensive economic development in Oregon. Below, we explore the key areas where broadband can make a significant impact:


"Students in an Oregon library accessing educational materials online due to limited high-speed internet at home

Education:

Over 26 school districts in Oregon lack reliable high-speed internet, making libraries the primary source of public internet access in many communities. Broadband connectivity offers numerous benefits to education, from enhanced career and college readiness standards to closing the "homework gap" and providing access to high-quality digital content and courses through distance learning.


Young adults in a rural Oregon holding a child and a solar panel.

Generational Transition:

Rural areas with widespread broadband open the door for technological advancements in many facets of Infrastructure. This opportunity and possibility is more likely to attract and retain young adults, contributing to the long-term vitality of communities.




A local business owner in Oregon using a computer or digital device in their restaurant

Economic Development:

A survey of the Oregon Economic Development Association revealed that 92% of respondents considered broadband crucial for economic development. It enables entrepreneurship, business growth, job creation, and stimulates home-based businesses.



Oregon farmer employing advanced technology in agriculture through broadband internet.

Agriculture:

Agriculture, a major contributor to Oregon's economy, relies on broadband for efficient practices. Lack of rural high-speed internet infrastructure hinders the adoption of new technologies, impacting food costs and environmental sustainability.




Telehealth session in progress, facilitated by broadband internet access.

Public Health:

Telehealth, facilitated by broadband, addresses healthcare access issues by providing remote healthcare services. It enhances access to specialists, reduces patient transports, enables remote patient monitoring, and improves public health education and outcomes.



 First responders using broadband-enabled devices for emergency communications.

Public Safety:

Broadband enhances public safety communications, supporting first responders with voice, text, images, and video. Oregon is transitioning to Next Generation 911 and interoperable wireless broadband communications systems.




Emergency management team in Oregon monitoring smart electrical grids via broadband.

Emergency Management:

Broadband facilitates a smarter electrical grid, allowing faster identification and response to power outages. Smart meters, a step towards grid modernization, rely on broadband for efficient communication.





Oregon resident using e-government services online thanks to accessible broadband.

E-government:

Oregon's centralized E-Government service benefits from broadband, offering faster, more convenient, and more useful online services. Rural and underserved communities gain improved access to public information and enhanced civic participation.




Network interconnection hub center showcasing global digital connectivity

Network Interconnection:

To support the growth of network-enabled data centers and e-commerce, Oregon needs strategies to enhance connectivity to national and global networks.






Community members in Oregon accessing the internet for various services, highlighting digital inclusion

Digital Inclusion & Equity:

Ensuring all individuals and communities have affordable broadband access is crucial for digital inclusion and equity. It fosters participation in civic and cultural activities, employment, workforce development, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.



Sandy, Oregon's Success:

Despite the significant economic benefits of broadband, a substantial number of Oregonians, approximately 400,000, still lack internet access at home. This gap affects various aspects of life, including education, generational transition, economic development, agriculture, public health, public safety, energy management, e-government, and network interconnection.


Funding Opportunities for Communities:

Communities seeking to replicate Sandy's success can explore various funding opportunities. State-level programs, federal grants, and public-private partnerships are avenues to secure the resources needed to invest in broadband infrastructure.


Moving forward:

Oregon's journey towards universal broadband access is a multifaceted effort that involves collaboration, innovation, and strategic investments. Sandy, Oregon, stands as a testament to the positive impact that local initiatives can have on closing the digital divide. As communities across Oregon and beyond navigate the path to broadband accessibility, exploring available funding opportunities becomes crucial for sustainable development and a connected future.


Empower Your Community's Future with HSC's Broadband Solutions:


Community members in collaboration with Healthy Sustainable Communities, planning broadband infrastructure to enhance local economic development.

If your community is in need of assistance to bolster its broadband infrastructure for economic vitality, look no further. Healthy Sustainable Communities is here to support and guide you on the path to fostering a connected and thriving environment. Our team of economic development consultants are dedicated to helping communities bridge the digital divide and unlock the economic benefits that come with accessible broadband. Whether you are seeking expertise, resources, or funding opportunities, we are committed to providing tailored solutions that align with the unique needs of your community. Get in touch with Healthy Sustainable Communities today, and let's work together to build a future where everyone can reap the advantages of a robust and sustainable broadband network.



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