Tech unlocks rural Ohio’s full potential


In 2024, access to technology and the internet are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. As our world and economy become more reliant on the internet, digital tools and technology to connect, improving access to technology is a social and economic necessity. Technology is helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas and innovations to market, enabling mom-and-pop businesses right here in Ohio to expand their presence in the e-commerce world, improving the quality of education for students and even making it easier for doctors to diagnose and treat their patients more efficiently.

However, for far too long, many rural communities, like the ones in my Ohio House district, have been overlooked. As a result, rural communities are now facing some of the most pressing and unique challenges in the state. Compared to their urban counterparts, rural communities have “less internet access, fewer educational institutions, see more hospitals close and experience less economic growth,” according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Although Washington has begun to make progress in addressing these challenges, it is crucial to do more to set our communities up for long-term success. We can accomplish this by investing in access to broadband internet.

In rural areas where access to traditional resources may be limited, technology can serve as a lifeline by breaking down barriers to entry and expanding opportunities. According to Broadband Ohio, more than one million Ohioans still lack access to high-speed internet. Nationwide, 28% of rural Americans don’t have a high-speed internet connection at home. The same data found that 20% also do not own a smartphone, 56% do not own a tablet and 28% do not own a laptop or desktop. This means rural regions are leaving millions of dollars of growth on the table.

Rural America clearly is at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing the digital world, and strengthening American technology and connectivity to help reach more individuals must be a priority for elected officials at all levels of government. That’s why investing in high-speed internet, digital literacy programs, and supporting the U.S. technology companies who build these tools will ensure that no community is left behind in the digital age.

By strengthening American technology companies and closing the digital divide, we can help spread technologies and innovations that empower entrepreneurs, small business owners and individuals in rural Ohio.

Investing in technology and creating a digital culture in Columbiana and Carroll counties will attract new businesses and job opportunities to the area. Ohio is already one of the best places to start a business, but with a focus on technology and greater access to rural communities, we can make Columbiana and Carroll counties one of the best communities to do business.

Monica Robb Blasdel

State representative,

Columbiana County


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