Bloomington, Ill. – January 31, 2023 – The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and its partners held the first Project Broadband Breakthrough webinar enabling participants to learn more about the program and their opportunities for involvement, develop their plan, and submit a proposal to provide reliable and affordable broadband access to every citizen in their respective counties.
“We accomplished our primary goal of making our participants comfortable with our Benton Institute, the University of Illinois Extension and the University of Illinois Extension Broadband Lab teams, introducing the community team members and gaining a better understanding of their perspective and motivation when it comes to establishing a common baseline of broadband technology knowledge,” said Bill Coleman, owner of Community Technology Advisors. “Throughout this process, we want participants to share their knowledge and ask questions freely. For example, this week, we had great conversations about the ongoing importance of cellular data services in precision agriculture applications and how to incorporate this into our process moving forward.”
In addition to Broadband Breakthrough Coaches, Bill Coleman and Nancy Esarey Quedraogo from the University of Illinois Extension, the five county cohorts have been assigned a community liaison with whom they are working closely to develop their plans. These individuals are observing the teams, answering questions, providing resources and helping guide the process.
Community liaisons include:
Robbie McBeath, Ogle County, University of Illinois Broadband Lab
- Adrianne Furniss, McLean County, Benton Institute
- Shubhika Agarwal, Edgar Country, Benton Institute
- Grace Tepper, Hancock County, Benton Institute
- Mary Gay, Schuyler Country, Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois.
These five county cohorts will work on assigned information-gathering action items for the next several weeks. From identifying and contacting broadband providers that claim to offer broadband resources in their counties, to designing and deploying countywide broadband surveys to host an information broadband event of their design, these teams will begin to research and develop their county broadband proposals.
“Project Broadband Breakthrough is only possible with the support of our partners,” said Todd Main, ISA Director of Market Development. “With their dedication, we are going to be able to revitalize our rural communities and get them back on the map as broadband will allow for the development of more business, more jobs and access to educational resources and health care. Doors of opportunities will be flung open through this pilot project.”
The program is led by ISA and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, with funding provided by the United Soybean Board. Program collaborators include the Center for Rural Strategies, the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Broadband, the University of Illinois Extension, the University of Illinois Broadband Lab, the Illinois Innovation Network, Illinois State University and the Wireless Research Center.
For more information on Project Broadband Breakthrough, or to start a pilot project in your county, please contact ISA’s Director of Market Development Todd Main at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org and www.ilsoygrowers.com.