GREENSBURG — A $98,000 grant will assist in providing high speed internet that will benefit nine agribusinesses and approximately 275 employees in Decatur County. The service will extend five-and-a-half miles along Highway 3 and 46 in Decatur County toward Columbus.
On Thursday, Aug. 25, at Greensburg City Hall, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Area Specialist Jerry Hay, Southeastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (SIRPRC) Housing/Special Project Manager Patty A. Jackson, Enhanced Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) Business Development Manager Lori Feldbauer and Greensburg Decatur County EDC Executive Director Marc Coplon met to discuss the grant.
The partnership between the entities came together after agribusinesses reached out asking for assistance accessing high speed internet. After researching the cost to build five-and-a-half miles of fiber-optics, Feldbauer and the ETC began talking with Coplon. Similarly, at a board meeting, SIRPC’s Jackson and Decatur County Commissioner Rick Nobbe discussed the project.
Jackson then called USDA’s Hay, which led them to where they are now, the project manager said. Essentially, it was good timing, the three mentioned. But they also noted that they’re fortunate.
“You know the expression, ‘Luck is the residual of hard work,’” Coplon said. “Well, we put a lot of hard work in trying to find someone that could help.”
The USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant will provide $98,000 which will be used to cover over half of the project’s estimated $164,000 total. The ETC will also be donating $60,000, while the remaining amount would be paid for by a customer along the route.
According to Feldbauer, the fiber-optic internet will be the latest and best available, providing speeds up to one gigabit.
As the executive director, Coplon says the EDC understands the importance of helping meet the needs of agribusinesses in Decatur County.
“We believe there’s a great importance to working with your existing business that are in a community,” Coplon said. “That’s probably going to account for 70 to 75 percent of your increase or growth in new jobs. We always place, at least, as much focus on working with existing businesses as we do trying to bring new businesses into the community. It’s about my favorite thing to do here and in the communities that I’ve worked in.”
Coplon further explained the significance of the technology upgrade by explaining that it’s difficult to compete without high speed internet.
“In today’s business world, high speed internet is an essential part of doing business,” Coplon said. “Dial-up is not going to work because your competitor is probably going to be using high speed internet.”
Crop Production Services will be one of the businesses receiving the upgrade. For obvious reasons, manager Patrick Wells is looking forward to the new internet services.
“Very excited,” Wells said. “It’s going to make our jobs a lot easier.”
When it comes to working with Decatur County, ETC is ready to assist in improving the productivity of local agribusinesses.
“On behalf of ETC, we’re honored to be a part of this partnership, and are committed to Decatur County as well as our ag industries” Feldbauer said. “We realize what a big impact they have on this county, and we’re here to stay and help our businesses grow, so yes, we’re committed and totally excited.”
ETC are hopeful that project completion will occur within 180 days, but – at minimum – should be completed by the end of the calendar year.
Source: Greensburg Daily News