Warren County focuses on Securing Broadband

Warren County’s focus on securing broadband access for regional residents began before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so officials certainly couldn’t have known face-to-face interactions would halt, making high-speed internet more important than ever — especially to women.

According to The Daily Yonder, an online news source addressing issues related to rural living, access to broadband is proportionate to the number of female entrepreneurs.

For many women, starting a business became essential during the pandemic. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition reports women were 2.4 times more likely than men to lose paid work to care for others during the pandemic. And, worldwide, female-owned businesses experienced higher closure rates than those owned by men.

“Female entrepreneurs are also more driven by family life, especially when they have young children … preferring the flexibility that self-employment provides,” The Yonder wrote. “These trends all point to women working from home more often – where access to broadband is essential.”

The Daily Yonder reports that entrepreneurial efforts are “often part-time or sporadic gigs such as the woman down the street running a dog kennel in her home.” Such businesses rely on internet marketing, or spreading word on social media.

Before the pandemic hit, EDC Warren County joined forces with carriers, elected officials, nonprofit organizations and citizens to conduct a survey to determine need for broadband. In the time since, the coalition laid more than 200 miles of fiber to thousands of homes in Johnsburg, Thurman, Stony Creek and Warrensburg, and secured a grant to provide service to thousands more.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury,” said John Wheatley, vice president of EDC Warren County. “It’s a necessity that will help us sustain our region.”