Friday October 25, 2013
Bill Rinehart of Hocking County has been selected as Connect Ohio’s newest Broadband Hero awardee. Rinehart was recognized by Connect Ohio at the state quarterly Technology Association Meeting, Friday, October 25, in Columbus, for his efforts in fostering high-speed broadband expansion to unserved and underserved homes and businesses in the area through community development investment.
Rinehart has been the executive director of the Hocking County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) for 14 years and has served on the Hocking County broadband committee since its inception more than 10 years ago. As the executive director of the Chamber, Rinehart saw the connection between broadband availability and economic development. Rinehart has served as an advocate for broadband expansion in Logan County and the community at large, maintaining the idea that economic development remains stagnant without sufficient broadband.
“It was very apparent to me early on that in order for Hocking County to compete in the global economy, we’ve got to have high speed Internet,” said Rinehart. “It is a necessity for our students to succeed in school, for local businesses to have a competitive edge, and for Hocking County’s tourism to continue to flourish.”
Rinehart was instrumental in partnering with Connect Ohio to open a Digital Works location in Logan to provide Hocking County residents with a link between twenty-first century workforce opportunities and community revitalization.
Rinehart saw a need to bring the Digital Works program to Logan in order to serve the many unemployed and underemployed residents. One program requirement of Digital Works is that residents have a high-speed Internet connection available at home for the telework opportunity.
“I saw that the Digital Works program was a great opportunity for our community to create jobs,” said Rinehart. “The program has a great return on the community’s investment per job and the partnership between Connect Ohio, Hocking County CIC, and Frontier Communications will have a tremendous economic impact on our community.”
In August, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the Digital Works job creation program in Logan. Since the grand opening, Digital Works has seen remarkable success with more than 10 participants having already completed the training and been offered employment. Frontier Communications partnered with Digital Works and Hocking County CIC to provide the broadband and phone service to the center. Frontier also expanded DSL reach within Logan County significantly over the past 2 years.
Bart Winegar, technical outreach manger for Connect Ohio, praised Rinehart’s vision and drive for fostering community partnerships for economic development.
“I would love to have a Bill Rinehart in every community we assist,” said Winegar. “He sees the necessity of broadband for a community and goes above and beyond to develop its full potential of employing workers and impacting community economic development. Rinehart caught the vision right away, and quickly put a plan into action.”
Connect Ohio thanks Bill Rinehart for championing broadband expansion in the community, aiding in connecting numerous households and residents to high-speed broadband access and twenty-first century employment.