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Recent News // Press Release: Washington County to be Recognized as 4th Certified Connected Community in Tennessee

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Washington County receives Connected community certification, releases Technology Action Plan

Johnson City, TN – Washington County, which includes Johnson City and Jonesborough, has been certified as a Connected community by Connected Tennessee with Tuesday’s announcement also introducing a Technology Action Plan to continue building on Washington County’s current digital foundation. Connected Tennessee and local partners extensively examined three areas in determining Connected status – access, adoption, and use of broadband.

"In today’s economy, nothing tells the world your community is open for business quite like access to broadband Internet," said Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin. "And no other certification declares that access better than Connected community certification.

“At least 98.95 percent of the citizens living in our community have access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps. And 99.85 percent have access to mobile broadband. We lead the region in many areas from healthcare to education, technology, and commercial development. But we know increasingly that the jobs of today and tomorrow will be driven by high speed digital access.”

Washington County is the 4th certified Connected community and 54th in the nation. Johnson City, Washington County, and the Johnson City Power Board (JCPB) have been working with Connected Tennessee since May 2014 on the Connected Community Engagement Program. The Connected initiative evaluates the local broadband ecosystem, identifies gaps, and establishes technology-driven goals to increase broadband access and adoption at home and at work.

“Connected certification communicates clearly to existing and potential new businesses that we understand the global landscape of business today and commit to providing the tools necessary to retain and grow new jobs in our community,” said Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge. “An objective review confirms that high quality broadband infrastructure is accessible and widely deployed in our area, but there’s more work to do to expand our digital infrastructure as outlined in the Action Plan.”

“Our community already features a quality of life second to none in the region,” Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “Whether you desire a more urban lifestyle, a quiet, smaller town atmosphere, or the beauty of the lakes, rivers, and mountains, we have it all in Washington County. As our workforce transitions to new opportunities through remote access and telecommuting, if we want to retain and attract new citizens, continually improving broadband access is a must.”

With the Johnson City Power Board (JCPB) exploring high-speed wireless Internet as a tool for more efficient management and operation of the community’s electrical system, a secondary benefit may be to provide an affordable broadband alternative to the community.

“From the foundation of the power system, economic development has been a primary goal,” JCPB Chairman Robert Thomas said. “Reliable, affordable electric power has been a cornerstone of our national economy since the turn of the last century. At the same time, the Internet and broadband are quickly becoming as essential as the electricity that powers it. It makes sense for JCPB to be heavily involved in the Connected effort, and we’re pleased that a solid action plan is now in place to continue moving our community forward.”

"Thank you and congratulations, Washington County Broadband Committee, for developing the action plan that will make the most of broadband and for becoming a certified Connected community,” said Tom Ferree, Connected Nation President and COO. “Particularly, the focus on schools and businesses will be of great benefit to all of Washington County as you improve your broadband landscape.”

Connected certification affords a community an avenue to discuss its success and pursue opportunities as a recognized technologically advanced community. The Technology Action Plan unveiled at the event includes projects and action items related to increasing public access, facilitating new business development through broadband Internet, and working to improve connectivity to students and youth. The certification is an important milestone as the team transitions into implementation of its newly adopted Technology Action Plan.

For questions about the Connected Community Engagement Program in Tennessee, please contact [email protected].

Download the press release.

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About Connected Tennessee: As a public-private partnership, Connected Tennessee joins with technology-minded businesses, government entities, universities, and non-profit organizations to improve economic development and enhance quality of life by accelerating Tennessee’s technology landscape. For maps, research, or more information about what Connected Tennessee is doing to expand broadband access, adoption, and use, please visit www.ConnectedTN.org.

Connected Nation developed the Connected Community Engagement Program to help guide a community through an assessment of its overall broadband and technology status. Connected certified communities have measurably demonstrated their proficiency for effective access, adoption, and use of broadband-supported technologies. Connected Nation, through its partners, provides a national platform for recognizing those communities that excel across these important benchmarks. http://www.connectmycommunity.org