Investment and Economic Growth
Frederick County, like many other localities, was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and lost many businesses, creating higher unemployment and reduced services. Prior to the pandemic, Frederick County was ranked as one of the best areas in the state for business investment, in a highly desirable rural environment. With federal and state funding for assisting local economies, we can make these investments for our businesses and families, specifically identifying return on investment. This will also bring back outside business investment that will assist in supporting our infrastructure needs for housing, broadband, and transportation. Our Supervisors must be open to bringing in new business and supporting our local economy, including a focus on small business.
Critical Need for Broadband Service
Broadband service, or high-speed access to the Internet, has become a critical part of our infrastructure, much like housing and transportation. Today’s family is very dependent on being able to access the Internet for educational purposes, as well as day-to-day communication – as much as using the phone, if not more. In fact, cell phones now utilize Internet capabilities through a growing number of applications.
Frederick County has conducted studies dating back to 2013 that have identified the needs of families in the more remote areas of the county for broadband service, but solutions have not been fully implemented. The need persists and has only become more urgent.
It is not only families in their homes who need broadband; as more remote areas grow in population, businesses will also grow to serve people – and these businesses will need Internet connectivity. In addition, new schools are being planned and built, which will exponentially increase the need for broadband. Another pressing need, underlined by the pandemic, is for telehealth calls by healthcare professionals.
We need a plan for full broadband implementation for the remote areas of Frederick County, to be integrated with the entire county and surrounding areas. Frederick County has begun applying for state grants for funding; next steps must include providing the infrastructure for the construction of towers and identifying/obtaining providers of broadband. We cannot wait any longer, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the critical need for connectivity, particularly for the education of our children.