House Bill 2 Important for Ohio Small Business Growth

Date: May 11, 2021

The Ohio House recently voted (91-4) to send House Bill 2 to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for $20 million in funding to expand access to broadband internet in rural Ohio and other under-served areas in the state. The current estimate is that over one million Ohioans living in 300,000 households are impacted by having insufficient broadband availability.

That will be in addition to $200 million, mostly federal dollars, that is included in the next two-year budget that is currently being debated in the Ohio Legislature. These dollars are to be used to help to get internet providers to bring broadband that services that otherwise might not make financial sense to the company to these areas in need.

From those having to work at home, to those attending their classes remotely, to people having telemedicine visits during the pandemic, this bill will mean a great deal to those who have struggled with the lack of broadband in their areas. Businesses will also benefit as more and more transactions are occurring online.

“Ohio employers are competing in a global environment. To do so, they need well-educated individuals to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.  Without adequate internet access, many children, tomorrow’s workforce, will be left behind.  This hurts their future employability, the success of our small businesses, the local economies, as well as Ohio’s overall economic success as the pool of qualified and educated workers, is diminished simply by one’s geographic location,” said Roger Geiger, NFIB Executive Director in Ohio. 

“Employers are providing increased flexibility for employees to work from home and the need for reliable broadband is greater. Entrepreneurs need certainty their staffs have dependable internet connections that move with the speed of business.  We also believe Ohio can expect to see an increase in home-based businesses, especially for those that have been displaced as a result of the pandemic,” Geiger continued. 

Governor DeWine signed House Bill 2 on Monday, May 17, 2021. From the language in the bill, the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program would be established to distribute funds over a three-year period, and additionally, a five-member authority to award grants to internet providers would be created to help fund the extension of broadband into areas not currently covered where the dollars to expand do not make sense to the providers to do so.

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