GrowSmart Maine Testifies in support of LD 140, An Act To Promote Economic Development and Critical Communications for Rural Family Farms, Businesses and Residences by Strategic Public Investment in High-speed Internet

Senator Woodsome, Representative Berry and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. I regret that I am unable to attend today’s public hearing.

We are a statewide non-partisan, membership-based organization whose mission is to create lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine, and we are a member of the Maine Broadband Coalition.

As we seek economic growth that supports Maine’s quality of life, reliable world-class broadband must be part of the plan.  This is true for to the natural resource sector, particularly in agriculture which is growing significantly with value-added as well as commodity crops and increased direct marketing. It applies to the IT and creative economy as well, for the growing number of people choosing to live in Maine, and either bringing their work with them or seeking it once they settle into the community they’ve chosen.  Finally, as seen in my hometown, high-speed internet matters to Maine’s manufacturing sector.

Watch the new 5 minute video from CEI & the Broadband Coalition on the impact of broadband, high speed internet for rural Mainers.

I serve on the Economic Development Committee for my hometown of Monmouth, and over the past year I have heard from three employers confounded by the lack of sufficient broadband service in town: TexTech, a hundred-year old manufacturing success story, The Theater at Monmouth, Maine’s official Shakespearian Theater, also stymied by slow internet service; and the Norton Insurance Agency, an insurance brokerage office located right on Main Street in Monmouth.  Manufacturing, service sector and the arts; all working to improve their businesses but held back by poor internet access.

LD 140 proposes $10 million for the Municipal Gigabit Broadband Network Access Fund to be distributed by ConnectME Authority for under and unserved areas. This is a strategic investment in all economic sectors, in communities across Maine because it will allow communities to make headway in creating economic strength and lasting prosperity.