Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative

Content tagged with "Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative"

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Mississippi Electric Cooperative and State Shine BEAM On Rural Delta Region

The establishment of a new broadband office in Mississippi heralds a new era in the state’s efforts to bring high quality broadband to all its residents, especially those living in the most rural parts of the state.

On the forefront of that effort is the Delta Electric Power Association, an electric cooperative currently building out fiber infrastructure in the Mississippi Delta region – a mostly rural part of the state with a majority Black population and where about a quarter of residents do not have access to broadband of any kind.

Mississippi Delta Electric Power Association Logo

As in other states with sizable rural areas, electric cooperatives are playing a major role in building out high-speed Internet infrastructure.

In Mississippi, Delta Electric, has a service area that covers ten counties in the northwestern part of the state, providing electricity for 4,235 industrial, 3,144 commercial, and 21,174 residential member-owners.

Now, the cooperative has set its sights set on bringing high-speed Internet service to its members, left behind by the big national providers who do not consider the region profitable enough to invest in.

Electric Cooperative Starts With CARE(S)  

It started in 2020, when the electric cooperative was awarded a $4.9 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant for a fiber pilot serving Carroll County with gig speed connections.

New Report: Universal Broadband Infrastructure Would Return $43 million Annually to Counties Across Rural Black Belt

In partnership with the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI), today ILSR is releasing a new report that examines the link between high-speed Internet infrastructure, access to healthcare, and the economic implications involved.

The report – “Increased Wellness and Economic Return of Universal Broadband Infrastructure: A Telehealth Case Study of Ten Southern Rural Counties” – has particular relevance for those living in rural broadband deserts as it details how universal, affordable, broadband infrastructure would return $43 million per year using telehealth across 10 counties in the Black Belt of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.

At a virtual press briefing today, SRBWI leaders and organizers were joined by Dr. Sandra B. Reed of Emory Healthcare; as well as ILSR Senior Researcher and the report’s lead author, Ry Marcattilio, to explain how robust broadband infrastructure could pay for itself in short order and open up untold access to healthcare, educational opportunities, economic development, community engagement, and other benefits along the way.

Telehealth report savings table

“It’s easy to miss the connection, but hard to overlook what’s at stake as rural hospitals close and the cost of transportation to get to far-off healthcare facilities presents a real barrier. This is about access to healthcare and Black women being denied the opportunity to take advantage of telehealth. The broadband infrastructure that’s needed for that just isn’t there,” said Shirley Sherrod, SRBWI State Lead for Georgia and Director of the Southwest Georgia Project in Albany Georgia.

Broadband … to Access Longer, Healthier Lives