The Daviess County Commissioners have approved a resolution that will allow it to say it is broadband ready. Following a recommendation from the Daviess County Economic Development Corp., the county unanimously approved the resolution which creates a streamlined service for permitting for broadband providers.

“We are trying to get broadband to every part of the county. We will partner with anybody but right now we are working with RTC to make Daviess a gig-county in three to five years,” said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Michael Taylor. “Broadband is about quality of life. People need the freedom to work from home and our kids need it to do what they need to do and complete projects online and schools have e-learning days. Not having broadband out in the county hurts our students.”

The resolution makes the Daviess County Economic Development Corp. the contact point for firms looking to expand broadband opportunities in the county.

“We are no strangers to broadband and high-speed fiber in Daviess County. We have a partnership with RTC communications to improve broadband here,” said Executive Director for DCEDC Bryant Niehoff. “The commissioners have approved an infrastructure development zone that provides a property tax break on the new infrastructure. While RTC is utilizing it now, it is open to all internet providers.”

Niehoff says the “broadband ready” designation is a lot about letting providers know there are advantages to working in Daviess County.

“In a lot of ways, this is a marketing effort. It puts us in line with our neighboring communities and sends a message to providers that Daviess County is broadband ready,” he said.

But it also helps clear the way for the county to take advantage of the opportunities a wired community can create.

“Internet is a way of life anymore. Getting everyone on broadband is a big deal for our county and getting Daviess County to be the first Indiana to be a complete gig-county would be pretty nice,” said Taylor.

The broadband resolution was not the only business between the EDC and the commissioners. The commissioners also committed to working with the EDC and the city of Washington to pay for a new director for the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program (HELP).

“I think it will be a good position for the county,” said Taylor. “They could help with some of the projects that economic development already does. Going in partnership with the city is also good.”

With the county’s commitment, the project which is being carried out in association with Vincennes and Dubois County, can begin taking the next step.

“Just beginning to look for a director,” said Niehoff. “We wanted to make sure we had the funding lined up before we moved forward. We now have apparent approval from the city and the county so we will begin advertising and doing interviews soon.”

Both the county and city of Washington will be committing $20,000 each for two years to help pay for the HELP coordinator, with OCRA reimbursing them for part of that cost.

"I think the biggest thing is re-grouping as a community from COVID. In 2019, we did a quality of place plan that identified several priorities. Shortly thereafter, the world turned over on its axis because of the pandemic,” said Niehoff. “This is a chance for us to center ourselves once again and focus as a community on where we want to go from here. We have been through this global pandemic. We have seen how the community fared. We have seen how we responded. Now, we have these resources that we want to put into projects that can provide a return to the community. We are focusing on economic growth, population growth, expanding talent, improving the workforce.”

The HELP program is designed to draw some of the ARPA funds that both the city and county have on hand and couple that with a dollar-for-dollar match with the state that could provide up to $2 million for a project.

"We have several projects that we have already talked about that could fit. We are going to consider new projects and maybe dust off some of the older ones that might not have made sense at the time or the priorities changed,” said Niehoff. “We are also looking for the public’s feedback. We want to know what people in Washington, Daviess County, Montgomery, Odon and the rest of the communities want to see or would like to have. Things that will include improving the quality of life and creating opportunities for our kids and grandkids.”
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