Rural America: The Forefront of Innovation

Roll Call, July 21, 2014 | Go to article overview

Rural America: The Forefront of Innovation


The productivity and growth of rural America are essential to the overall economic well-being and prosperity of our country. These regions are critical to our sustainability and should not be neglected when considering policies that promote job creation, investment and innovation. While Ohio's 5th District boasts more than 60,000 manufacturing jobs, it is also the largest agricultural district in the state. Ensuring our rural areas are accounted for, especially when examining ways to tap our country's technological potential, must be a top priority.

Maintaining an open, free and accessible Internet is currently at the forefront of policy discussions facing Congress. Over the past 20 years, the Internet has become a platform for job creation, education, job skills training, business development and health care. It has also enabled us to achieve efficiencies in agriculture, energy, transportation, manufacturing and many other sectors of the economy. Expanding access to the Internet, not deterring it, is critical to this continued advancement and growth.

Unfortunately, there are efforts to do just the opposite. The Federal Communications Commission's proposed regulations on broadband Internet access would impose costly government mandates that were designed for the monopoly telephone system of the 1930s - long before the Internet ever existed. If adopted, these regulations will obstruct ongoing efforts to spread broadband access to rural communities and deepen the economic divide between rural and non- rural areas.

To guard against this potential bureaucratic interference and preserve the critical technological gains we've made in rural America, I recently introduced legislation to keep the Internet open to consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs, and free from government regulation. By doing so, broadband service providers will continue to be incentivized to invest in rural America and deploy infrastructure to these hard-to-reach areas that support the innovative applications and services that make so many efficiencies and conveniences possible today. …

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