By RAY WILBUR
Capital News Service
LANSING — Small towns across the state are eyeing ways to build their own utilities that boast high-speed internet reliability and better access for residents than traditional internet providers. They face one challenge: the cost. Fiber optic internet is faster than normal cable internet. It is less likely to crash during a power outage and isn’t affected by geography such as sand dunes or hills. Counties, cities and townships, especially where cable internet is inadequate, have begun to implement such systems, said Eric Frederick, executive director of Connect Michigan, a nonprofit organization that promotes broadband expansion across the state.
The relationship between farmers and non-farmers in Clinton County has changed, but the importance of farmers in the county has not. Farms are a vital source of income for towns in Michigan, said Paul Thompson the Kellogg Chair in agricultural, food and community ethics at Michigan State University. “Farming really is the single, economically most important industry in most of these rural communities, particularly here in the southern half of the state,” Thompson said. According to Scott Swinton, a professor at MSU’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, because farmers earn money for their crops and then spend that money, they help out the communities. “When one person in a region earns money, as farmers do from selling their crops and livestock, they spend that money other places in the community, it’s what economists call a multiplier effect,” Swinton said.