GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Department Jobs and Family Services (DJFS) was notified in 2012 that more than 100 local jobs were in jeopardy when InfoCision planned to close its Gallipolis office, but that more than 80 of those jobs could be transformed to teleworking positions if reliable high-speed, Internet access was available.
Connect Ohio’s research reveals that only 42 percent of Gallia County residents subscribe to high-speed home broadband service, well below the state average of 71 percent, and 19 percent of Gallia County residents use a dial-up connection. With more than 60 jobs still at risk due to lack of sufficient Internet service, JB Nets continues to quickly expand its broadband Internet access to reach the other displaced employees.
“As a small community we have learned to work together to make things happen, and I commend JB Nets for making the extension of their broadband service to these displaced workers a priority,” said Dana Glassburn director at Gallia County DJFS. “This situation reaffirms the need to continue to further expand broadband infrastructure into underserved areas in Ohio, and how that expansion will greatly impact local economic development and job creation.”
Since 2009, Connect Ohio was apprised of the opportunity to save jobs through additional access to broadband technology and an action committee was formed that included Gallia County JFS, JB Nets, State Representative Ryan Smith, Gallia County Economic Development, and Connect Ohio.
“This is a great example of how our work engaging community champions with a common belief — that increased broadband access and adoption fuels jobs and economic development, was able to make an immediate impact,” said Stu Johnson, executive director of Connect Ohio. “It’s fascinating to think of all the individuals and organizations over the four-year span that played a part in helping more than 80 adults continue getting a paycheck, and Connect Ohio is proud to be a part of facilitating that.”
Connect Ohio’s most recent research paper reveals that 783,000 Ohioans telework for at least part of their week — this equates to nearly 17 percent of the state’s labor force — saving a combined $430 million in vehicle operating cost and nearly two billion pounds of carbon dioxide emission by not commuting. About 1.3 million more would be interested in teleworking if their employer allowed it.
“We have two additional towers constructed now, which will be able to provide service to additional employees,” said Jake Kline, president of JB Nets. “The first of the two was completed in late March, and the second tower will allow us to start accepting customers as soon as next week.”
JB Nets has the availability to service, or was already serving, a few dozen of these Gallia County employees, but the wireless connection did not meet the company’s telework requirements of being a ground wire connection. Since the speeds that JB Nets provides exceeded the telework connection requirement, the action committee requested the company revisit its telework requirements and conduct test of JB Nets’ service, in which the company compiled and additional jobs were secured.
“The company’s announcement to close the Gallipolis facility was a call to action for the community,” said Smith. “Faced with the potential job loss, whether permanent or relocated to West Virginia, we were able to collaborate resources and allow these workers to continue employment in their community and to maintain a flexible work-life balance.”