A group of Arkansas organizations and leaders have formed an Arkansas chapter of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) to promote broadband access and adoption throughout the state. IIA is a national coalition of business and non-profit organizations committed to helping our country achieve universal broadband.
“Broadband drives opportunity in everything, from our economy to education and entrepreneurship to healthcare,” John Chadwell, executive director of the Newport Economic Development Commission and charter member of Arkansas IIA, said in a statement. “High-speed Internet helps businesses connect to new markets and students access educational resources anywhere in the world. These opportunities should be available to every family and business person in the state, no matter where they live.”
Others joining Chadwell as charter members of Arkansas IIA are:
• Polly Martin, president of the Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association;
• Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber/Associated Industries of Arkansas;
• Montine McNulty, executive director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association;
• Ed Clifford, president of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce;
• Raymond Burns, president and CEO of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce;
• Perry Webb, president and CEO of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce; and,
• Brian Thompson, director of External Affairs for the Cross County Chamber of Commerce.
More than 1,000 Arkansans have joined IIA as grassroots members or signed the IIA petition calling for expanded mobile broadband access.
Arkansas IIA will spend the coming months educating community members and state leaders about the importance of mobile broadband and its many benefits.
The state ranks No. 32 in the country in Internet access, according to the National Broadband Map, and Census figures show that more than 29 percent of households in the state report no Internet usage.
“Our collective focus is ensuring that everyone has access to high-speed broadband Internet,” said Chadwell. “Until we meet that goal, communities and businesses, including agri-business, that want to innovate and expand will be at a disadvantage.”
The Internet Innovation Alliance supports reforming the Universal Service Fund to include broadband, more efficient use of spectrum and the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, a move that would bring high-speed broadband Internet to more than 97 percent of our nation’s population.