Digital Inclusion Planning Begins in NC’s High Country
North Carolina’s High Country is the latest region in the state embarking on the journey to close the digital divide thanks to the Institute for Emerging Issues’ (IEI) Building a New Digital Economy (BAND-NC) program.
IEI held two kick-off events with the High Country Council of Governments in July to help local leaders improve access to reliable and affordable internet by creating digital inclusion plans for their counties.
“Each county within the High Country region has its unique set of assets and challenges, and communities have their own needs and barriers for reliable and affordable internet access,” said Tatiana Magee with the High Country Council of Governments. “We’re facilitating necessary conversations and creating partnerships with local organizations, non-profits, educational centers, and community representatives to identify their needs so we can effectively move forward with this planning process.”
Representatives from community colleges, local governments, schools, nonprofits and other organizations in the High Country attended the meetings in Boone and Spruce Pine.
Participants learned about the BAND-NC program and heard from organizations that are working to close the digital divide in their communities and industries. Participants then started the digital inclusion planning process by collaborating on asset mapping.
Creating digital inclusion plans for northwestern North Carolina is part of a broader effort to connect people with accessible, affordable internet service and devices, and to make sure they have the skills to use these services and devices effectively.
“Increasing broadband equity can truly be life changing; it leads to more people being able to work, learn, stay connected, receive services and live well,” said IEI Digital Inclusion Fellow Colin Fox. “We’re thankful for the support and partnership of the State Employees Credit Union Foundation, the Dogwood Health Trust and the High Country Council of Governments on this important effort for the High Country.”
The goal of BAND-NC is to equip counties to build more digitally equitable communities across the state while making North Carolina the first state in the nation where every county has a digital inclusion plan in place. Learn more about BAND-NC.