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      Ottumwa moving forward with improved broadband service

      In November, a technology expert and the host of a radio show entitled "Gigabit Nation", Craig Settles, came to Ottumwa to assess the community's needs for a broadband network and high-speed internet.

      Residents and business owners took a survey asking about the quality of their broadband now and how an improved network could put Ottumwa on even footing with larger communities in the rest of the state.

      Now, Settles is back in Ottumwa, following up with those residents and community stakeholders to take the next steps forward.

      "The good thing is that the survey has pointed out a lot of energy, a lot of interest in broadband, because a lot of people, whether they'd be the actual in-user or not of a high-speed internet connection, they see the impact that it's having in other communities," Settles said. "They're reading about the gigabit network in Chattanooga, there's a gigabit network in Kansas City and just all kinds of great things are happening."

      In Chattanooga, Kansas City and other areas with a broadband infrastructure, the community has seen an intense growth in economic development, an improvement in education and an increasing population of residents staying in town to live and work.

      In Ottumwa, this means graduating students from college and high school would stay in the community, bringing more jobs and work to the area and would positively impact our economy. The entire project's success depends on the interest and engagement of each and every resident in order to move forward, which Settles said Ottumwa has.

      Settles will be in Ottumwa the entire week, following up on his work since November.

      There will be two meetings on Tuesday, March 5 that the public is invited to attend to give feedback and ask questions. The first will be at 10:30 a.m. in the board room of the Ottumwa Chamber of Commerce, the second at 5 p.m. in the Chamber board room.