I write to commend the recent article, “Roanoke Co. leaders deem broadband critical” (Jan. 28), which outlines the critical role access to high-speed internet plays in economic development decisions. In 2021, broadband access is fundamental to attracting new businesses. With it, it unlocks opportunities; without, it often blocks future development.
On Sunday, I held a virtual meet-and-greet with voters in the New River Valley regarding my campaign for lieutenant governor. While we talked about a range of topics, broadband was a singular focus. The issue of access to high-speed, reliable and affordable internet came up time and time again. Attendees highlighted their frustration with attempting to work remotely, keeping kids learning online and contacting health care providers through telehealth during this pandemic. I applaud the local leaders in Roanoke for prioritizing increasing access and affordability, but they need help from statewide leaders.
Gov. Northam just announced a nearly $30 million broadband investment in Southwest, Southside and Northern Neck to increase access. I definitely applaud this investment, but I believe we need to go bigger and bolder. As Lieutenant Governor, I will stand up a task force to bring the best and the brightest from industry, academia, philanthropy and local, state and federal government together to identify resources, innovative technologies and partnerships that will help us leapfrog our current efforts and ensure ubiquitous, high-speed internet access to all of Virginia, allowing us to attract more business, increase quality of life and provide a link to the future for our children.