EDC_Insights Blog: Broadband

Thank you for your interest in the EDC’s public policy work. The article below is part of our EDC_Insights campaign, a monthly series of blog posts, email newsletters, social media posts, and policy focused events. Please also read our kickoff blog to learn more about the people and processes behind the EDC’s policy work. 

In today’s digital age, reliable internet access is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. From schools and e-commerce to remote work and telehealth, broadband connectivity plays a pivotal role in our daily lives and in our economic well-being. For a rural community like Chaffee County, ensuring ubiquitous and affordable access to high-speed internet is the difference between building a year-round, vibrant economy, versus a tourism and second-home dependent community. The Chaffee County EDC’s Policy Pillar Statement on Broadband Access creates a guide for policy makers and business leaders who want to be a part of the solution and unlock new opportunities for Chaffee County residents and businesses.

Like each of our seven Policy Pillar Statements, the Broadband statement highlights the EDC’s position – that internet access is more than just a convenience; it’s a catalyst for growth, innovation, and community development – and therefore, we must proactively work to ensure reliable and affordable access to it. 

Without seizing on once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunities, our lack of reliable broadband infrastructure will hinder growth, limit access to essential services, and exacerbate existing disparities. At the EDC, we use these Policy Pillar Statements to publicly and privately push (and support!) our elected officials and business leaders towards the use of key strategies.

We have two primary strategies in the pursuit of  this goal of ubiquitous broadband access. First and foremost, the EDC encourages and elevates the fact that today, in 2024, the combination of federal and state funds available to communities for investing in broadband infrastructure is unique and exciting. We must proactively plan ‘shovel ready’ projects now in order to leverage these funds for maximum community benefit. We won’t have this same opportunity again. 

Our second strategy is to ensure broadband is treated as a critical utility provider – on par with water, sewer, electricity and gas. Telecommunication infrastructure can no longer be an option or an afterthought in new development and municipal infrastructure projects. Not only does the infrastructure cost less to install as a neighborhood is being built versus afterwards, it also ensures that everyone living in that area will have the same access to high quality internet connections. This ‘digital equity’ is a must for our community’s vibrancy and economic foundation. 

The Policy Pillar Statement on Broadband Access underscores the critical importance of broadband connectivity as a cornerstone of Chaffee County’s future prosperity and growth. The Chaffee EDC not only recognizes this, but has been working on this issue since its inception. We played a critical role in the formation of Central Colorado Telecom (now Aristata Communications) and helped guide the company through multiple acquisitions, which has laid the groundwork to ensure Chaffee County benefits from these incredible funding opportunities available today. By prioritizing infrastructure investment, fostering partnerships, promoting digital equity, and advocating for policy reforms, we can bridge the digital divide and ensure that all residents have access to the opportunities that broadband connectivity affords. As we navigate the challenges and opportunities of the digital age, let’s work together to build a connected, inclusive, and vibrant community where everyone can thrive. 

Be sure to check out Chaffee County EDC’s Policy Pillar Statement on Broadband Access

Thanks for reading!