For Immediate Release: Update

Media Contact: Savanna Saltsgaver

September 4, 2020

Next Level Connections Grant Brings High-Speed Fiber to Crawford County

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced $51 million for 50 broadband infrastructure expansion projects across the state as a part of the second round of the Next Level Connections (NLC) Broadband Grant Program.  Crawford County will be a recipient of over $3 million to build and grow true high-speed fiber throughout the county.

“Our community and our economy must grow and with the NLC connections grant coupled with the public and private investment, Crawford County will be able to grow the population, young families, and drive the next generation of entrepreneurs to the county.  We could not do this without high-speed fiber.” Said Michael Thissen, Executive Director of the Crawford County Economic Development Partnership who took the lead in engaging the service provider, Mainstream Fiber Networks, and led the community effort to obtain the necessary input needed.  The total for the project will reach $5.77 million.

Thissen goes on to say: “This was a total community and team effort to complete the monumental task of not only drilling down the data to the specific house in a census block, but also a credit to the more than 900 surveys and emails gathered from 17 public meetings, planning sessions, and town halls.  In our strategic planning efforts, high-speed fiber access was the number one challenge and need.”

“There were so many people who led this effort with us.  Most notably are all of the county elected officials who see the critical need to secure our future and unanimously support the initiative.  I am also in appreciation to Craig Menke who as a business owner and chair of the EDC Business Council took up the mantle at a critical time when the challenge was particularly heavy.”

Said Menke, “We needed to dig deeper into the program and increase our presence to everyone and communicate just how critical this piece of infrastructure is needed for our kids and how businesses operate.  When Michael arranged our meeting with the key folks in the state, they gave us the marching orders we needed to get the job done.  We were able to assist in removing barriers to form a clearer path for true high-speed fiber.”

Another major contributor to the team effort is the support of Morton Dale who understood what we needed to do: “In order for us to keep our kids here and for young families to be here and for the increase in business potential, including tourism, we need to move forward into the future.  Broadband will do just that. In light of the current situation with school kids needing faster connectivity at home, the need is even greater than ever before. It was really the community voice that we heard loud and clear.”

“It really was the community,” said Thissen, “Whether it was a message in the middle of the night or a letter and documented surveys, this community has pulled together to give us the sustainability we need.  While we are grateful for this day I know that we still have a lot of work to do now that we have this…but I am glad we have the ability to do it together.”

The Crawford County Economic Development Partnership serves Crawford County Indiana for business, entrepreneurship, and workforce growth and builds capacity in quality of place. Our mission is simple: Growing a prosperous Crawford County, together.