Benzie County Plans to Expand Access to Broadband

“It makes me happy because it’s bringing us in this century,” said Candi Riddell, a Benzie County resident who is excited for some changes.

Right now, not everyone can get access to the internet in Benzie County.

“Incredibly rural. Everything that makes us beautiful, lakes, streams, hills, trees all make it challenging for broadband,” said Mitch Deisch, the Benzie County Administrator.

In fact, access to the internet in Benzie County is a luxury.

However, the county is looking for ways to expand broadband, making it accessible for everyone.

“We have various locations within our county that really don’t have adequate services,” said Deisch. “That hinders children doing their school work. That absolutely hinders businesses wanting to relocate here and it really hinders economic development with the entrepreneurs wanting to be in Benzie County.”

Riddell says she used to take internet access for granted.

“I lived in St. Louis for years, moved up here three years ago and there’s so many things that we had the luxury of in St. Louis that we don’t have,” said Riddell. “I know people that drive and sit outside the library at night because they don’t have access to the internet.”

This is why the county created a sub-committee to focus on expanding broadband.

“Every day we wait, we lose economic development opportunities so that’s why the committee is moving forward,” said Deisch.

After sending out letters of interest, they are now choosing among three private businesses to work with in hopes of expanding access to the internet.

“We really need the business, the private business to come in, which has the expertise, to help the county figure out where we have to go and then we’ll discuss the financing of how’ll we’ll get there,” explained Deisch.

The sub-committee will present an update on their progress at Friday’s economic development committee meeting.