Story By David Waterman/WVOC
The U.S. Commerce Department has announced that federal stimulus monies will help increase broadband Internet access in South Carolina. The state gets $5.9 million to expand Internet access at its 16 technical colleges. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke says The “Reach for Success” project will add more than 2,000 new computers to expand the capacity of 51 public computer centers and create 19 new computer labs.
“With all of this combined, they’re gonna be doubling the number of workstations to more than 3,200 — basically a workstation is a computer and a terminal and desk and so forth. And they’re gonna be able to accommodate more than double the number of users every week from 17,000 now to 38,000 users per week.”Sixth District Congressman James Clyburn says new figures show the loss of jobs is slowing down, and greater broadband Internet access can help continue that trend by helping South Carolinians have more opportunities for education and improving their job skills.
“There’s been a significant drop in the unemployment. Nationwide, down to 9.7%, the lowest it’s been now in about five years. And we want to see that continue to drop. But we want to be able to sustain that, and we cannot do it unless we provide adequate training and educational opportunities for our young people.”
Fifth District Congressman John Spratt says this grant is a clear example of how South Carolina is benefiting from the stimulus program. “One of the frustrations we’ve had with the Recovery Act is a lot of people don’t discern the difference. They don’t see what we’ve gotten, how much bang we’ve gotten for the bucks we put into it. But they can look at this kind of investment and see what it means to them personally in their job-seeking, in the education of kids,” Spratt says.
The project will also open technical college computer centers to the general public for the first time.