Tri-County Regional Planning Commission Holds Broadband Adoption Seminars


Business owners and managers in central Illinois are learning online trends and tools to help gain an edge in the local marketplace.

Through the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund, a grant administered by Broadband Illinois, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission conducted 12 seminars last week aimed at using high-speed internet to boost business.

The seminars were part of the Focus Forward CI broadband initiative and spanned Mason, Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford Counties.

“As the region is developing this new strategy, it’s recognizing that broadband access and broadband adoption is critical to growing our regional economy,” said Nick Hayward, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. 

The seminars present information on how high-speed internet can be used to strengthen businesses, boost employment prospects and improve quality of life. 

Hayward said that Vital Economy consultants conducting the meeting are seeing light bulbs go off when attendees are shown how to use available online tools, such as social media.

“Business owners and other individuals are walking away from these sessions say, ‘Yes! That’s a new idea. That’s something I can use to strengthen my business.’ We are seeing an impact immediately when individuals are leaving the sessions, and it’ll be exciting to see them put these ideas into place,” said Hayward.

The $29,858.16 award from Broadband Illinois also helped train nine volunteers to continue the sessions past the grant period. More communities have expressed interest in hosting the seminars in the months ahead.

“This project will be sustainable,” Hayward said. “There will be more broadband awareness seminars conducted by our volunteer trainers… Moving forward, we should see an even greater impact pertaining to the use of broadband for strengthening economic development.”

The purpose of this Focus Forward CI is to develop an asset-based community economic development (CED) strategy for the four-county region and support strategies that will be derived from the regional asset-based CED strategy.

Focus Forward CI is being overseen by the Regional Strategy Policy Steering Committee, a 30-member panel comprised of elected officials, business leaders, state government officials and community leaders that represent the four counties.

Tags: Fast Forward CI, illinois broadband innovation fund, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission

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