Sunset Statement in Support of Virginia Rural Broadband Coalition
December 20, 2017
DUFFIELD, VA – Sunset Digital Communications is proud to be a member of the Virginia Rural Broadband Coalition (VRBC) whose formation was announced yesterday. We look forward to supporting the coalition’s efforts to be a voice for those that need broadband where they work and where they live. (release below)
– With Increase in State Broadband Funding, Coalition Emerges as Voice Supporting Broadband Access for Rural Virginians –
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2017
RICHMOND, VA – After the release of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s 2019-2020 biennial budget, which includes an increase in rural broadband funding, advocates of rural broadband announce the formation of the Virginia Rural Broadband Coalition (VRBC). The VRBC represents the many stakeholders who have a role in developing policies to encourage broadband expansion across rural Virginia. Today, many individual localities are working hard to expand broadband access. These independent efforts are important in highlighting the severity of the problem for state and local elected officials. However, they lack the impact of a single voice for greater broadband connection across rural Virginia. With the absence of a single voice to champion this issue, there has been less urgency for policymakers to move quickly in solving the problem.
Last week, Governor McAuliffe said, “Access to reliable broadband is an economic imperative that will ensure that all of our children can keep pace with new technology as they learn, our businesses can sell globally, our entrepreneurs can compete, and our workforce can prepare for the jobs of the 21st century.”* Governor McAuliffe made broadband access in rural areas of Virginia a top priority for his administration and Governor-Elect Northam promises to do the same. VRBC plans to work with the General Assembly and the new Administration by giving one coordinated, sustained voice for rural broadband deployment in Virginia.
Virginia Rural Broadband Coalition members include business, government, electric cooperative and education leaders. Erv Blythe, Vice President Emeritus for Information Technology & CIO of Virginia Tech (Retired), states that “to compete in today’s global economy, rural Virginia must have access to reliable and fast internet services, otherwise we are not in a position to keep much less attract businesses and families to our rural regions of the Commonwealth.”
The focus of Virginia Rural Broadband Coalition’s work would be to:
i) champion efforts to connect rural Virginians to the internet (business, government and residential customers);
ii) educate national, state and regional officials about success stories in Virginia that are being deployed to connect rural communities;
iii) identify funding pools for greater deployment of broadband in rural Virginia;
iv) engage business and civic leaders as champions for coalition initiatives; and
v) educate coalition members on broadband types that can be provided in rural Virginia.
With the leadership of the VRBC, General Assembly and the Governor’s Administration, along with the investments in communities, businesses, and infrastructure, rural Virginia can continue leading the way – strengthening the Commonwealth’s economy, small towns and rural communities.
Members of the steering committee include:
Erv Blythe, Vice President Emeritus for Information Technology & CIO of Virginia Tech (Retired)
Jeremy Bryant, Director of Planning & Zoning, Amherst County
Paul Elswick, President & CEO, Sunset Digital Communications
Rob Jones, CEO, Alliance Group – Coalition Director
Mike Keyser, CEO, BARC Electric Cooperative
Joe Lerch, Director of Local Government Policy, VA Assoc. of Counties
Casey Logan, Vice President of Engineering, Price George Electric Cooperative
Laura Loveday, AICP, Special Projects and Grants Administrator, Culpeper County
Susan Seward, Chair of Sussex County Board of Supervisors
Tom Swartzwelder, County Administrator, King & Queen County
*Governor McAuliffe Announces Forthcoming Budget will Contain Additional Broadband Funding for Rural Virginia https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=21967