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Snyder looks to expand broadband internet access in state

Flickr User Justin Marty
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Governor Rick Snyder kicked off his week of daily announcements Monday with a focus on broadband internet access. During the State of the State, Snyder said he would make a new announcement about infrastructure and the environment every day this week.

On Monday, Snyder signed an executive order. It creates a group charged with building a “roadmap” of what needs to be done in Michigan to make sure everyone has access to secure, reliable and affordable broadband internet.

“We still have too many areas of rural Michigan in particular that do not have quality access to broadband,” said Snyder spokesperson Ari Adler. “And that’s not good for them in terms of being able to take advantage of the state’s comeback.”

Adler said a goal is protecting parts of Michigan from potential hard times.

“If you have a rural county where internet adoption is below 40 percent, when they have an economic downturn, they’ve lost more businesses, they lose more jobs,” he said. “So you have to be able to compete and the way you do that is by having this access.”

The executive order directs the group to look for gaps in internet service coverage and capacity, look at what is currently being done to fix connectivity issues, and identify key strategies and recommendations for the state and private sector to explore to enhance connectivity.

The group will include members from government entities, the private sector, academia and stakeholders, according to a press release. Five members will be appointed by the governor and two will be nominated by the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader. There will also be a handful of non-voting members.

The group is supposed to have the roadmap put together by August. From there, Adler says the governor’s office will look at what it can do in terms of things like funding and coordination between public and private interest groups. The governor is term-limited and out of office at the end of the year.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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