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TEXARKANA — A local economic development organization is asking residents and businesses to participate in a survey with the aim to understand and improve broadband internet access and attract new employers.

AR-TX Regional Economic Development Inc. has partnered with a consultancy called Magellan Advisors on the survey to get a clear picture of how accessible broadband is in the area, President and CEO Rob Sitterley said.

"That's our only real option of how we're going to know what we've got and what people's connectivity speeds are, and if they feel it's affordable for them," he said.

The ultimate result will be a regional broadband plan to provide more options for reliable, affordable high-speed fiber-optic internet across the region.

AR-TX REDI considers robust high-speed internet infrastructure a 21st-century necessity — just as important as roads, bridges and running water — and a key prerequisite for developing the local economy. It also demonstrates the ability to educate and train the region's workforce, Sitterley said.

"We live in a world now where you obviously need really good connectivity. You've got remote work, telehealth, online learning, all those things. I think that the pandemic showed we're no different than any other community in the country," he said.

"We need this if I'm going to attract businesses that want to spend the next 50 years here in Texarkana growing. They're going to need this. It's crucial to business," he added.

Bowie County, Texas; Miller County, Arkansas; and the Texas Pioneer Foundation, a local philanthropic fund that supports innovation in education, funded the survey.

Magellan Advisors works with municipalities, utilities, co-ops and regional governments on planning, engineering, grant development, implementation and management of broadband networks, according to its website.

The survey should be completed by the person in an organization or household who chooses and/or pays for services for the home or work location. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and should be performed from a primary business or household location.

To participate, visit http://s.alchemer.com/s3/REDI-Broadband.

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