During Governor DeWine’s Thursday, July 23, COVID-19 press conference, Lt. Governor Jon Husted made three important announcements related to the state’s efforts to improve remote education and expand broadband access.

“We are pleased to see the DeWine administration, BroadbandOhio, InnovateOhio, and the Ohio Department of Transportation moving forward to address the technology needs of our region’s students and streamlining the permitting process for service providers seeking to expand broadband access,” said Misty Crosby, Executive Director of Buckeye Hills Regional Council. “These are important steps toward addressing broadband access in our unserved and underserved communities.”

InnovateOhio and ODOT have launched anE-Permitting System for right-of-way access that will be more convenient for permit requesters and will save them time when requesting to install broadband fiber optic cable. The centralized, digital system replaces a paper-only right-of-way permitting system that was managed across twelve ODOT district offices. Details are available online.

Additionally, the administration issued a Request for Information (RFI) for pricing from internet providers and vendors for everything from hotspots to laptops to tablets for Ohio schools. Providers are asked to submit their information by August 7. The full RFI is available online, here.

Lt. Governor Husted’s third announcement was that a total of $50 million in CARES Act funds, pending Controlling Board approval, will be available to school districts as matching grants for providing hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students. For every dollar schools put toward connecting in-need students to the internet, the state will match and double their purchasing power. The CARES Act funds available average $82,000 per school district across the state. Details of the grant program will be available upon approval from the Controlling Board.

To learn more about Buckeye Hills Regional Council, visit www.buckeyehills.org, call 740-374-9436 or 1-800-331-2644 (toll-free), or email info@buckeyehills.org