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the demands of new technology.” “If COVID-19 has done anything,” sta- ted Murray Jones, EORN chairman, “it has created consensus across governments and political parties that rural broadband must be a top priority. We must turn that consensus into action. The second wave of the pandemic is just reinforcing how critical connectivity is for our lives, from school and health care to the very survival of many businesses.” EORN is seeking federal and provincial financial support for its Gig project, the next phase of the group’s Regional Broadband Project (RBP). The project is a public-private partnership that the EOWC launched seve- ral years to improve rural Internet service throughout Eastern Ontario. The Gig project, estimated at $1.6 billion, requires investment from the federal, provin- cial and regional levels and also investment in kind from private sector broadband com- panies. The project, when completed, would provide ultra-fast Internet service for the region to match current global broadband speed standards of almost 100 Megabytes per second for upload.

Promises in the Throne Speech have inspired hope for the agency working on a massive broadband improvement project for Eastern Ontario. Officials for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) and the Eastern Ontario War- dens Caucus (EOWC) expressed hope that the September 23 Throne Speech confirms the federal government’s past promises of investment in fast and reliable Internet and cellular service for all homes and businesses a priority. EORN has been working several years now on projects aimed at improving broadband service for all of Eastern Ontario, with emphasis on rural areas in the region which either lack broadband access or are limited to slow dial-up service through lan- dline telephone connections. “Already our region has lost more than 87,000 jobs and almost $5 billion in gross domestic product due to the pandemic,” stated Andy Letham, EOWC chairman. “Our long-term recovery will depend on investment in robust broadband that keeps pace with

The federal Throne Speech has inspired hope that the federal government will provide financial support for plans for a project aimed at making ultra-fast high-speed Internet service available to businesses and residents of Eastern Ontario. — stock photo


The COVID-19 pandemic created financial troubles for many small businesses in the Prescott-Russell region. These businesses received federal funding help through the Prescott-Russell Community Development Corporation to adapt their operations for more online marketing and sales of their goods and services. —stock photo


themselves.” The focus of PRCDC efforts during the pandemic was to help local small- and medium-sized businesses become more flexible in their operations, to adapt to the changing conditions, including developing a stronger presence in the global digital marketplace. The PRCDC has access to $1.5 million in funding aid through the Federal Development Ontario program (FedDev Ontario) to help SMEs in Prescott-Russell and Southern Ontario adapt to online purchasing trends, enhance their own business website and better develop their online marketing and promotional methods. Eligible businesses received up to $20,000 in non-refundable grants to help revive their operations. More than 80 local small- and medium-sized businesses have taken advantage of the funding and advisory aid so far.

The small business sector in Prescott- Russell got a financial shot in the arm to help survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prescott-Russell Community Deve- lopment Corporation (PRCDC) has invested $1.5 million in federal funding support for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the Prescott-Russell region and other parts of Southern Ontario. The funding aid will help build on previous business support work of the PRCDC this year when the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting the regional economy. “Before the Government of Canada’s assistance programs were put in place,” stated John Candie, PRCDC executive direc- tor, “we were the first economic development organization on the ground to adjust to help SMEs stabilize, support, and reinvent

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