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New broadband initiative launched in Orangeburg County

It is part of the $30 million project headed by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) to expand high-speed internet access to 19 counties by 2022.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — For the next three weeks, the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development is training 12 Orangeburg County community leaders to teach folks who live in rural areas about using broadband.

"It's hard in today's society to grow if you don't have access to the information," explained James McQuilla, Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce's President. "Pretty much all access now is through the world wide web. If you never had the opportunity or if you're an older adult who lives in an area that isn't prevalent, then the fact that you get internet doesn't mean you're going to use it to your best ability."

The leaders are selected from county administrators, teachers, business owners, and health care executives to form the South Carolina Broadband Community Champion Training Initiative.

It is part of the $30 million project headed by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) to expand high-speed internet access to 19 counties by 2022. Orangeburg and Fairfield are two of the counties in the Midlands under the initiative. 

The Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce president says after the training, the champions will go to several towns like Holly Hill, Santee, Vance, and Woodford to train residents and business owners about broadband and help attract internet providers.

RELATED: Rural South Carolina areas should see high-speed internet access in 2022

"What we are trying to do is find the areas that need service," said McQuilla. "Not because they have moderate to slow service, but because they have no service. Those are the areas we are working on first."

McQuilla expects to start training those Orangeburg County communities sometime in November.

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