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What’s New in Digital Equity: Ohio Taps OSU for Broadband Partnership

Plus, Michigan launches a connectivity listening tour; Kansas announced $45 million in broadband funding for underserved counties; Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signs digital equity legislation, and more.

This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


Last week, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted — who also serves as the director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT) — announced that Ohio State University (OSU) will receive funding to design curriculum for Ohio’s Broadband and 5G Sector Partnership.

The goal of this effort is to help develop a skilled workforce to meet broadband expansion needs, and the resultant curriculum will be available to all higher education institutions in the state once it is developed.

“This Sector Partnership will give the telecommunications industry a chance to work alongside training providers to develop curriculum that will be available for any Ohio institution,” said Husted in the announcement.

The university will be responsible for identifying a nonprofit telecommunications industry partner to lead the effort.

States have been increasingly focused on addressing workforce needs to support broadband deployment planning and execution. Partnerships, like this one, are seen as a critical part of bridging the digital divide in rural and urban communities.


The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) launched the MI Connected Future statewide listening tour last week in an effort to gather input on how to best prioritize the estimated $1.6 billion in federal funding for high-speed Internet expansion work.

“Every region and every community in our state has unique needs when it comes to getting everyone connected,” Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, said in the announcement.

The MI Connected Future tour will entail more than 40 events this year in cities throughout the state. Thousands of residents are expected to participate and ultimately shape the Michigan Five-Year Action Plan and the Michigan Digital Equity Plan.


In the third and final round of awards for the Kansas Capital Project Funds (CPF) Broadband Infrastructure Program, $44.5 million will be awarded to nine service providers in the state. The funding is intended to provide high-speed Internet access to over 18,000 locations in 15 underserved counties.

“Through this grant program, we are supporting Kansans most in need by connecting the unserved, underserved and those located in counties with high economic risk,” Lt. Gov. and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said in the announcement.

Combined with almost $42 million in matching funds, the funding will serve counties that have as few as five broadband locations per square mile. The Kansas Office of Broadband Development received 141 applications and a total of 24 projects were funded.


This week, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the Internet Equity Amendment Act of 2021, or B24-0200.

The legislation was first introduced in April 2021 by councilmembers Charles Allen; Brooke Pinto; Brianne K. Nadeau; Janeese Lewis George; Christina Henderson; Elissa Silverman, Vincent C. Gray; Mary M. Cheh; Robert C. White Jr.; and Chairman Phil Mendelson.

The passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) changed some of D.C.’s broadband funding needs, and in November 2022, White confirmed that the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) had already set up a new office to satisfy state digital equity requirements. Some provisions in the bill became less relevant as a result of the BIL. The legislation now is meant to support OCTO’s digital equity planning and execution.


Like federal agencies, states are also staffing up to support the digital equity work ahead of them. The state of Delaware has listed two job postings within the Department of Technology and Information: a broadband executive director and a director of digital equity.

The broadband executive director will oversee statewide broadband strategy, including managing the staff and activities of the Delaware Broadband Office. The director of digital equity would work with the governor’s office to develop a statewide digital equity strategy and ensure federal funding supports digital literacy and skills training.

The listings can be found with more information on the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s job board.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.