“Truly high-speed internet is a vital piece of infrastructure that is not available to much of our region,” said Jennifer Wakeman, DRIVE executive director. “To compete in today’s economy students, employees, and businesses need to have access to broadband both at home and at work.”
Geisinger has partnered with DRIVE on the first phase of project by investing $300,000. This forgivable, interest-free loan will fully fund the startup of the project. The Danville-based health system sees the project as not only investing in the local economy but in the community’s health.
“Geisinger has actively supported the communities we serve since our founding with both healthcare services and broader programs,” said Timothy Fitzgerald, vice president of Treasury and Financial Systems for Geisinger. “We know that healthy economies support healthier communities and this project does just that. Among other benefits, it will allow providers and patients to better connect remotely to health services and address many social determinants of health."
The initial work to install the needed technology for a microwave internet distribution is underway at four locations throughout the county: the county’s 9-1-1 tower, Montour County Emergency Management Agency building, Geisinger’s Hospital for Advanced Medicine and USG in Washingtonville. Work is scheduled to be complete by Jan. 1, 2019 with access available later that month.
DRIVE will contract with internet service providers to distribute the internet capacity. Those private businesses will be responsible for sales, service and billing to their customers.
“Wireless microwave technology is a cost-effective way of bringing broadband service to rural areas. This open-access network is built to serve the community and enhance opportunities for economic development,” Wakeman said.
DRIVE, which is committed to economic development in Montour and Columbia counties, consulted other counties in the commonwealth that have done similar projects. The service will likely be expanded to Columbia County once results of the Montour County project are collected.
DRIVE is an economic development council of governments serving Columbia and Montour Counties. DRIVE enhances the region through business retention and expansion as well as spurring new capital investment from companies outside the area. Established in 2015, DRIVE provides professional services to help businesses create and retain family-sustaining jobs. For more information about DRIVE, visit driveindustry.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes nine hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With nearly 24,000 employees and more than 1,600 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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