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RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Information Technology will host a statewide listening tour focused on closing the digital divide. The Closing the Digital Divide: From Mountains to Coast listening tour began with a session at the N.C. Rural Summit on March 21 and will continue through eight upcoming sessions to collect feedback from stakeholders as part of Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to close the digital divide in North Carolina.

“All North Carolinians need access to affordable high-speed internet, devices and digital skills so they can utilize online resources to work, learn, get health care and connect,” Cooper said. “This listening tour will gather important feedback from residents and businesses that will help us get all communities connected.”

The Closing the Digital Divide: From Mountains to Coast listening tour, hosted by the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, follows the planning requirements set by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications Information Administration’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program and Digital Equity Program. The listening tour will include the following stops in each of the eight prosperity regions defined by the N.C. General Assembly:

• April 25: Fayetteville
• April 26: Rocky Mount
• April 27: Jacksonville
• May 2: Kernersville
• May 4: Morganton
• May 8: Cherokee
• May 11: Elizabeth City
• May 16: Wingate

“Input from communities, individuals, and local organizations will build upon the data we have collected through our mapping efforts to help us create a more complete view of the digital divide,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. “This information is critical to fully connect state residents with the access, devices, and training they need to safely participate in the modern economy.”

All information gathered during the listening tour will be used to create comprehensive state plans to connect all North Carolinians, including the aging; people who live in rural areas; veterans; households at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level; individuals with disabilities; members of a racial or ethnic minority group; immigrants; individuals with a language barrier, including those who are English learners and/or have low levels of literacy; people who are LGBTQI+; and incarcerated individuals.

NCDIT hosted a kickoff webinar on March 7 to provide an overview of the BEAD and Digital Equity planning process, which includes collecting community feedback, creating asset inventories and needs assessments, and updating mapping. To learn more about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity’s tour and view the webinar recording and slides, visit www.ncbroadband.gov/BEAD.

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