The Necessity of Broadband

Washington, DC is a world away from Maine. When you visit Capitol Hill and listen to Members of Congress and their staffs, it is easy to see the need for greater discourse in our nation. Important political issues are complicated and often confusing in the technical details. It’s not like Maine where we’re used to folks speaking their minds, and that’s that.

With that in mind, I recently visited our nation’s capitol for the Broadband WORKS for Rural America Day, and was struck by the like-mindedness of people from all over the country – ranchers, teachers, farmers, small business owners – people who, with one voice told policy makers about the power of broadband to drive economic growth from Maine to Montana, from Washington County to Washington State.

Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC) is a private nonprofit organization that initiates and facilitates the creation of prosperity and jobs in Washington County, Maine. Founded in 1993, SCEC has designed and implemented long-range solutions to the multi-faceted economic and community development issues facing Washington County by crafting robust partnerships with area nonprofits, state and local government, and our diverse business community. As an organization, we not only recognize that broadband infrastructure is a luxury, but a must, for economic and community development across Maine and rural America as a whole.

Jess Peterson, executive vice president of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and spokesperson for the event, clearly summed up our appeal to Congress, “In rural America in particular, there are acres of opportunity for economic growth, but greater access to next-generation technologies is key to capitalizing on these opportunities. Right now, Americans need jobs, and we need to make sure that all Americans have the tools to

create and sustain them. I believe we successfully delivered that message to policymakers this week.”

Regardless of location, occupation, ideology or philosophy, a reliable broadband Internet, whether wired or wireless, has become a necessity for success in today’s digital world. From students conducting research online to businesses selling their products and ordering supplies, the Internet is now the central way individuals are communicating and accessing information. And those who do not have access to this powerful tool are being

left behind.

The advocacy day was a huge success with more than 140 participants telling our elected leaders about the importance of broadband to our communities. It was an opportunity to promote the economic interests of the great State of Maine and a chance to show that even in this current political climate, there truly is more that unites us than divides us. And one of those things is that expanded broadband access can stimulate economic growth and create jobs, especially in rural areas of the country.

Harold Clossey serves as the Executive Director of the Sunrise County Economic Council, cultivating and strengthening relationships with Washington County key partners in business and economic development communities as well as federal, state and local government. He is also on the Board of Visitors for the University of Maine Machias. From Eastport, he received a degree in Small Business Management from Washington County Community College and has spent several years working in rural economic development in Washington County. Harold currently serves on the Governor’s Nature Based Tourism Task Force and is a core governing member of Washington County: One Community! Visit for more information.