State Reps. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) recently introduced House Bill (HB) 378, a bill that would create the Ohio Broadband Development Grant Program, a program designed to encourage the expansion of broadband technology to unserved areas in the state.
“Whether it’s for applying for jobs, accessing critical health and financial information, taking classes or just trying to stay in touch with friends and family, the internet has become a vital part of our everyday lives,” said Rep. Cera. “HB 378 directs resources to build our broadband infrastructure and allow Ohioans in all corners of the state to be more connected than ever before.”
HB 378 appropriates $100 million over the next two years from the proceeds of bonds issued to support Ohio’s Third Frontier Program. Political subdivisions, businesses, nonprofits and co-ops would all be eligible to participate in the grant program, which will be administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency.
“With this bill, we have the opportunity to level the playing field for rural Ohioans when it comes to vital broadband infrastructure,” said Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), Rep. Cera’s bipartisan partner on the bill. “High speed broadband is the only way we can continue growing our economic base by attracting new commercial development and securing a strong labor force, our most valuable resource.”
The bill has been assigned to the House Finance Committee, where Reps. Smith and Cera serve as chair and ranking member, respectively. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Senate.