Partnerships. Our Chamber of Commerce’s impact on the overall economy and quality of life in our community is directly impacted by partnerships. With small staffs and limited sources of revenue, we are only as effective as our ability to work with other organizations to achieve community goals.

For over a decade, chambers across this area of the country partnering with organizations such as Farm Bureau have been advocating for universal access to high speed broadband. Professionals in the chamber world have begun to include this in infrastructure priorities at the same level of importance as transportation routes and upgrades. High-speed broadband access is a must for a healthy economy.

Two examples to drive the point home are the following:

Our farmers in this area have extremely sophisticated systems and ways of doing business. And their productivity makes a tremendous impact on our region. Imagine being in the middle harvest season, working in the dark to complete a day of work. Your machinery is being guided by a GPS computer program only to reach a dead or spotty area for internet coverage.

A second example relates to Greater Owensboro positioning itself to attract and retain young people who want to live here. Let’s face it. The pandemic has shone a light on Owensboro. Our small city is a perfect size. We have great neighborhoods and an undeniable sense of community. And professionals all over the globe have spent the last year proving it is possible to be productive working from most anywhere. So why not move to a place where you want to live and take your job with you? We must be ready to compete from a broadband perspective so people can actually have good internet coverage in order to make this a reality.

How can we all be a part of making this happen?

Last week, the Commonwealth of Kentucky announced the launch of the Kentucky Broadband Speed Test, an information-gathering project to harness the data necessary in the expansion of crucial broadband access across the Commonwealth. According to officials, existing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) maps are often based on results of one location within a census block, which can result in an inaccurate representation of broadband services available to residents or businesses in that region.

This statewide speed test will help provide a more accurate picture for Kentucky and possibly determine how future funding will be allocated. It is very important for Greater Owensboro businesses and residents to be a part of this test. While many of our residents live in the OMU fiber project and enjoy top-of-the-line access and speed, most of us do not. Having an accurate picture of our coverage will be extremely useful.

Please consider participating by clicking on one of the links at the end of this column so we can accurately represent the service and speeds that we have in this area. The data will help our community as we work to improve our ability to do business. The deadline to complete the speed test is Feb. 18.

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