Congressman Bill Owens today introduced legislation that would facilitate the expansion of high-speed internet access to Upstate New York and other rural parts of the nation. In Owens' continuing efforts to create jobs and develop local economies, the Rural Broadband Initiative Act of 2011 would create an Under Secretary position within the USDA tasked with developing a comprehensive strategy to bring expanded broadband access to rural America.
"A recent report from the Government Accountability Office highlighted billions of dollars in taxpayer money that could be saved by consolidating or eliminating redundant programs, and we can start with the current broadband loan and grant programs that lack an overall strategic plan," Owens added. "Centralizing these under one office would help to cut down on duplicative programs, force the federal government to work more efficiently, and give the American taxpayer a bigger bang for their buck."
The Rural Broadband Initiative Act of 2011 would serve rural areas in a variety of ways in addition to its intended effect on economic development. Increased broadband access will improve the quality of education students receive in rural areas, allowing for the opportunity to study for, attend and register for classes online. Additionally, it would make rural health care more efficient through electronic medical records, and would improve the efficiency of federal programs.
"When we look at the pockets of increased economic development in recent years, there is a direct relationship between access to high-speed internet and the success of businesses in a region," Owens said. "This bill will help to create the conditions necessary for Upstate New York businesses to continue to move into the global marketplace, and make the area more attractive to outside businesses to expand into the region, creating jobs in the process."