ST. MEINRAD, Ind. (WEHT) – Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb wants to connect rural Indiana with the rest of the world. He and Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch are seeing dollar signs.
The digital divide in the crossroads of America will be joined with internet access.
“We’re raising young people who are writing a new chapter in our Indiana history,” said Crouch.
Like any good book, it takes time, but the next chapter for Spencer and Perry County will be written with technology – and it’s coming fast.
Millions will be invested for better internet across the region. A check with more than $14.9 million was awarded to Perry Spencer Communications at a ceremony on Thursday.
It will help bring fiber optic internet to places in the dark, like Christney, Dale, Gentryville, and other towns.
The money is a piece of a state-wide Next Level Connections program to spend $100 million in internet infrastructure.
Holcomb said the investment could upload economic growth across Indiana to more than $12 billion.
“This is a ginormous step forward,” he said. “You think about how important interstates are, well internet connection is just as important.”
According to the state, there are 400,000 Hoosiers in internet darkness. Holcomb believes that is untapped potential in education and workforce development.
“It’s more than economic development, this has got to do with our quality of life.”
Students more than ever rely on connections. Abby Ruxer, a junior at Heritage Hills High School lives at home with little to no wifi access.
“All of our textbooks have been online,” she explained. “Back in my room, I get nothing but sometimes you can get it outside.”
Superintendent of North Spencer School, Dan Sherry, said internet is a challenge to learning.
“Students are at a disadvantage when expected to learn, study, and work using technology at home. Many students are forced to use our school’s wifi both before and after school, in order to complete homework.”
Miranda Keller, a senior at Heritage Hills, must juggle sports on top of connecting to the internet at school to finish homework.
“I mean I’m there probably from 7 ‘til sometimes 10 or 11 o’clock at night some days.”
Today, Spencer County can measure growth in stalks of corn. Someday soon, they hope internet at the speed of light can improve that measure, so stalks and students can reach new heights.
This story was originally published on August 8, 2019