Thursday, October 4, 2018

Trailblazing Southwest Colorado


Today's blog comes from Anthony (Tony) Neal-Graves, the executive director of the Colorado Broadband Office. Tony is responsible for driving the state’s broadband strategy and utilizing public and private sector relationships in communities across the state to support broadband expansion.

Did you know that some of the most beautiful stands of aspen trees can be seen in southwest Colorado as they turn in September?

As part of our goal within the Broadband Office to engage, encourage, and support local communities in their efforts to ensure residents and businesses have access to high speed broadband, I spent several days in the area hosted by Miriam Gillow-Wiles of the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments (SWCCOG). In many ways southwest Colorado is an original trailblazer in the development of broadband infrastructure through the Southwest Colorado Access Network (SCAN) project. In 2011, middle mile infrastructure was deployed with funding from DOLA to connect anchor institutions across all counties within the COG. As a result, the school districts, county, and municipal facilities have high quality access.

I visited Pagosa Springs to meet with town and the county administrator. They are working together along with neighboring Hindsdale County to finalize a broadband strategic plan in the next month. This was my second time in Pagosa Springs and it is great to see the steady progress. I also met with stakeholders in Durango, Silverton, and Cortez as well as officials from La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan Counties. It is exciting to see the engagement across all these communities to solve their infrastructure needs with the support from the private sector and state government.

One of the highlights was my stop at Osprey, a global supplier of backpacks headquartered in Cortez. During my visit, it is clear that Osprey could not maintain its presence in Cortez without the access that they have to
reliable broadband services. It is also clear that there is a strong collaboration between Osprey and the city of Cortez to provide reliable services as well as recruit other businesses to the town.

Every community understands the need for high quality broadband and the impact it has on all aspects of life from education, to healthcare, to public safety, to economic development.  The strong commitment to bring high-speed broadband to towns throughout Colorado makes my job one of the best!

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