Mecosta County, MI – Residents in rural areas of Mecosta, Osceola, and Lake counties may soon have access to improved internet service, thanks to the expansion of Great Lakes Energy‘s fiber network. The Fremont Area Community Foundation recently announced a $5 million grant to Great Lakes Energy for the purpose of expanding broadband internet access in these counties as well as Newaygo County.
The $5 million investment will aid Great Lakes Energy in expanding its Truestream fiber network, bringing internet access to more rural areas. This will provide residents with the connections they need for work, education, and telehealth services. According to a recent release, 25% of Mecosta County’s population lacks access to broadband, while over 70% of Osceola and Lake counties and 53% of Newaygo County are without access.
The lack of internet access creates significant barriers for individuals and businesses to work, study, access telehealth services, and complete important tasks such as job searching or filing taxes, according to the release. The President and CEO of the FACF, Shelly Kasprzycki, said “Rural areas like ours are still not widely served by the reliable, high-speed internet that is now a necessity for most people and businesses. We are excited to support the local expansion of broadband service.” The investment is considered as “mission-related”, which is a unique and flexible tool that philanthropic organizations can use to create positive impacts in a community beyond regular grantmaking programs. This type of investment is repaid and allows the organization to use its resources again, Great Lakes Energy has a long history in the state and the FACF is excited to partner with them on this important project.
Maria Gonzales, Senior Director at FACF, explained that a “mission-related” investment is similar to a program related investment as it provides financial assistance for an organization to move forward with a specific project. This particular investment is considered mission-related because it aligns with the community foundation’s mission to enhance the quality of life in the areas they serve, even though it is not a typical program that they would fund. Great Lakes Energy is a member-owned power company in Michigan, serving rural parts of 26 counties in western Michigan, and providing electric service to almost 29,000 homes and businesses in Mecosta, Osceola, Lake, and Newaygo counties. They have launched Truestream, a fiber internet and voice service, in 2018 to provide connections to unserved and underserved rural areas. They have already installed nearly 4,000 miles of fiber line in 10 counties, and connected nearly 16,000 homes and businesses.
“This partnership with the Fremont Area Community Foundation furthers our goal to bring internet and voice services to our members,” Shaun Lamp, president and CEO of Great Lakes Energy and Truestream, said. “We have already begun expanding the Truestream network in Newaygo County and with this investment will continue the momentum to connect more homes and businesses to life-changing fiber service.”
More about Mecosta County, MI
Mecosta County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of the Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county seat is Big Rapids. The county is named after Chief Mecosta, a leader of the Potawatomi Native American tribe. The county has a total area of 571 square miles and a population of 42,798 according to the 2010 United States Census. The county is home to Ferris State University, which is located in Big Rapids. The county economy is mainly based on manufacturing, education and healthcare, and agriculture, especially corn, soybeans, and sugar beets.
More about Osceola County, MI
Osceola County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,529. The county seat is Reed City. The county is named for the Seminole leader Osceola. The county was set off in 1840 and organized in 1875.
More about Lake County, MI
Lake County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the population was 11,539. The county seat is Baldwin. The county was set off in 1840 and organized in 1871. It is located in the west-central part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The county is known for its many lakes, including Big Star Lake and Little Star Lake. The county is also home to the Manistee National Forest, which offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities such as camping, hunting, fishing, and hiking. The county’s economy is largely based on agriculture and tourism.