The plan has been is the development process for months.
"The Connecting Appalachia Broadband Plan is a comprehensive approach to bringing high-speed internet service to attract new businesses, create jobs, and put the necessary infrastructure in place to support sustainable economic development," Space said in a prepared statement.
He said the plan would be able to create the conditions necessary to support modern industry and business, providing them with the broadband technology companies need to compete.
“Never before has our region seen such cooperation united behind a common goal – connecting Appalachia. There is no doubt that high-speed internet is vital infrastructure necessary to support long-term economic growth. This is an ambitious plan, and we have much work still to be done, but we have made a very significant step toward making this goal a reality,” Space said.
There are three development districts that cover southeastern Ohio. This is the first time the three districts have come together to work on this project. All three districts will work to obtain funding to implement the plan.
"The importance of Broadband can not be understated. The potential for economic development is massive but only if we have the necessary infrastructure in place to attract business to the area," Matt Thornton, director of communications for Congressman Zack Space said. "We are falling behind everyday we do not have access to this piece of infrastructure."
The Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Alliance (OMEGA), Buckeye Hills – Hocking Valley Regional Development District, and the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) are all partners in this project. The group has also been working extensively with the Governor’s Office of Appalachia.
The goals of Space's plan include an expansion of the fiber optic network that makes up the Southern Ohio Healthcare Network (SOHCN); constructing a network of wireless broadband towers that will provide consumer access in remote areas; linking many industrial parks directly to the SOHCN, providing high-speed access in support of local business development; securing funding to provide telemedicine equipment to take advantage of the connectivity provided by the SOHCN.
"The way the plan is structured is the local development districts will be competing for federal and state funding to help build the system. The people who will be building the system will be private companies. They will be the service provider," Thornton said.
He said the plan is far from a done deal and funding can not be guaranteed. This is the first such a project that has been taken on by this many organizations.
"In the long term we are hoping the implementation of this plan will help to bring in businesses and with it long-term economic development," Thornton said.
He said when the plan is implemented it will also create jobs in its installation.
The Economic Stimulus bill that's currently being debated is likely to contain $6 billion to $9 billion to help fund landline and wireless broadband networks in unserved and underserved areas. It also is likely to give tax incentives to encourage companies to invest in new or faster broadband networks.
Space's plan will encompass the following Ohio counties, Scioto, Adams, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Fairfield, Fayette, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Tuscarawas, Vinton, and Washington.
The Associated Press contributed to the story.