Building Broadband Through Community Spirit
Enhancing broadband in any township or county takes unified efforts across each sector, requiring residents, business owners, and community leaders to work together. Working with neighboring communities and each sector within the city, Woodbine, Iowa has brought all these parties to the table to measure their broadband resources and make a plan for expansion.
Connect Iowa has currently certified 18 cities and counties across the state, including several of Woodbine’s neighboring communities. When Woodbine leaders noticed their success, they considered applying it within their own community.
“I read about Connect Iowa in a digital post from another Main Street Community in Western Iowa,” said Deb Sprecker, Executive Director of the Woodbine Main Street program. “The community had just completed the process and had posted information regarding their action plan and community goals.” After speaking with a community champion representing a neighboring Main Street community’s broadband action plan, city officials agreed Connect Iowa was a good fit for Woodbine.
Like all Connected participants, the plan began with a broadband inventory, measuring the availability of technology resources such as Wi-Fi hotspots, public computers, digital training courses, and many others. This inventory requires participation across the community and Woodbine’s unified and enthusiastic spirit powered the process.
“Woodbine Main Street’s Business Improvement Committee along with others representing education, banking, and government worked on gathering data from the community sectors,” said Sprecker. “Like many rural communities, we’re a small group with a limited budget doing most of this sort of planning and community development as volunteers.”
Forward momentum throughout any community depends both on leaders and volunteers. Woodbine City Administrator Kelly Hasner noted that Woodbine’s community spirit, pride, and personality help to make new initiatives possible. “From the city’s elected officials to its staff, to the very strong can-do community spirit of the Woodbine Betterment Corporation and Woodbine Main Street, to the close knit friendships across the community, the city exemplifies a progressive and proactive vitality not often found in Midwest communities of a similar demographic,” said Hasner.
All community sectors in Woodbine will be moving forward with an action plan after the inventory. Aided by area schools and libraries, residents and businesses will be able to learn more about opportunities through broadband, while city leaders work with utilities and ISPs to expand access.
To learn more about Connect Iowa and other Connected communities and state programs, stay in touch with www.connectmycommunity.org.