Manchester city designated as Smart Rural Community

MANCHESTER, Ky. (WYMT) – Through a collaborative effort with SOAR, the Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative has designated the city of Manchester as a ‘smart rural community’ giving the region the opportunity to lead the way in terms of services in a large band.

Officials say they have expanded to Manchester over the past five years, seeing a need in the region for better broadband.

CEO Keith Gabbard says it brings an endless number of opportunities.

“Whether it’s healthcare, education, economic development, jobs, how are we using this cutting edge gigabit network to improve our lives here in eastern Kentucky? Gabbard said.

This gives organizations like Teleworks USA the opportunity to create more distant jobs in the region.

“And since then we’ve created 118 remote jobs here in Clay County and surrounding counties,” said Erin Deaton, Digital Economy Community Liaison Officer for Teleworks USA.

Deaton says this was all made possible through the use of good broadband.

“It’s the difference between someone who can drive 20 or 30 minutes to work minimum wage versus walking ten steps down the hall to their home office and earn $ 13.15 an hour,” Deaton said.

Gabbard says it’s a service that was needed long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Places that once had it were just one step ahead of other areas and Manchester is now a place that can do things other places in eastern Kentucky maybe can’t. do because of their limited speeds, ”Gabbard said.

PRTC hopes to expand to several counties in eastern Kentucky, with Clay County being one of the first.

“We expanded into Lee County, Beattyville, and we also started building in Buckhorn and Livingston County and Rockcastle, parts of Laurel County as well. Most of the surrounding counties we expand into, as well as other areas of Clay County, ”Gabbard said.

Gabbard says he was proud of the collaborative effort that made this possible.

“We are happy to be a part of this and we are happy to have been invited as a member of the community, and we want to be a partner in whatever we can to help this community become a better one,” Gabbard mentioned. .

Gabbard says the overall goal is to provide their broadband service to as much of Kentucky as possible.

Copyright 2021 WYMT. All rights reserved.

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