Julianne Meadows, director of regional planning for the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, said her team is making presentations to city and county governments around the 15-county area.
The region covers Floyd, Polk, Gordon, Chattooga, Bartow, Paulding, Haralson, Catoosa, Dade, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens, Walker and Whitfield counties.
The NWGRC is preparing an update to the regional plan, with a deadline of June 30 to submit it to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The draft document is nonbinding, but required by the state.
The plan essentially catalogs the counties’ resources and identifies priorities for future development of the region. It also contains lists of actions the governments can take to cooperate or implement their part of the plan.
While Northwest Georgia has better broadband coverage than the southern part of the state, gaps still remain especially in the more rural areas.
The Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative seeks to eliminate those gaps. Part of the program calls for cities and counties to apply for designation as a Broadband Ready Community. The marker “signal(s) a local unit of government has taken steps to reduce obstacles to broadband infrastructure investment.”
Meadows said that requirements include amending the local comprehensive plan to include promotion of broadband and adopting an ordinance establishing a permitting process.
According to the Broadband Initiative, just 4% of Floyd County does not have access to high-speed internet. That’s 1,638 households and 92 businesses, in The Pocket and scattered around other areas.
In Polk County, the estimate is 6%, equal to 944 households and 13 businesses. Chattooga and Bartow are both at 5% unserved and about 11% of Gordon County — 2,547 households and 75 businesses — don’t have access to speeds faster than dial-up.