A group of Rush County citizens and advisers announced the formation of the Rush County Connect Broadband Task Force in April.

Their vision: for every home and business in Rush County to have affordable and adequate internet access.

“Broadband today is the equivalent to railroad or interstates back in the day,” Community-Regional Economics Specialist at Purdue University Roberto Gallardo said. “In this growing digital economy and society, not having adequate broadband places communities and individuals behind. It affects youth retention and overall quality of life not to mention not being competitive.”

The broadband task force asks all households in Rush County to complete a survey to help identify underserved areas so work can begin to attract internet service providers offering expanded service and higher-speed options.

This survey can be accessed online at https://pcrd.purdue.edu/rushcounty or by hard copy found in several locations across the county—including the Rush County Extension Office in the Courthouse, Rushville Public Library and Rush County Chamber of Commerce.

According to Purdue University Center for Regional Development, digital exclusion is the biggest threat to community economic development today. Digital inclusion requires access, affordability and adoption.

Increasing access to affordable broadband and fostering digital skills is expected to be economically transformative for rural communities like Rush County.

Approximately 19 million Americans (6 percent of the population) still lack broadband access, according to the Federal Communication Commission’s Eighth Broadband Progress Report.

“This is not something a community accomplishes overnight,” co-chair of the Rush County Connect Broadband Task Force Mark McCorkle said. “It will take considerable time and effort to accomplish our goal of affordable, adequate and reliable internet access to every home and business in Rush County. By working together we can get there.”

The task force, in partnership with Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development, as well as city, county and state officials, will work with broadband providers, community leaders, organizations and residents to improve internet access and digital literacy throughout Rush County.

Members of the broadband task force include a wide cross-section of Rush County citizens, including youth representation, education, farms, businesses and families.

Gallardo said Rush County is doing exactly what it should to increase its broadband access. He said it’s vital for a group of interested and motivated community members to meet and begin developing a plan to address infrastructure needs, improve digital skills and adopt use of broadband services.

Local organizations and churches are encouraged to help distribute this survey. For a comprehensive list of physical locations or to request a packet of surveys for your location, please visit the Rush County Connect Broadband Task Force Facebook page.

For more information about Rush County Connect Broadband Task Force, visit its Facebook page or contact co-chair Carole Yeend at (317) 407-3221.

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