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Link Up Livingston - Broadband and Connectivity for Livingston Parish

Access to internet connections has never been more front and center than through the restrictions brought on by covid and the need for online platforms.  The Livingston Parish Chamber has signed on as a supporter of efforts to bring online access to areas of Livingston Parish that are both underserved and not served at all on the federal level through the US Chamber of Commerce. 

On Tuesday, August 3rd, Chamber Board Chair, Trey Sanders, and Chamber President, April Wehrs, represented the Livingston Parish Business community at the Livingston Parish Broadband and Connectivity Summit organized by Representative Buddy Mincey.  The Chamber addressed the pressing need for businesses to have availability for their employees to be able to log on no matter what part of the parish they reside in.  "The current and the future of the workforce, and where they chose to live, will be determined by completely different factors than in the recent past. 

Access to reliable online services, an issue that has been discussed for years, has now become more critical then ever for business.  That's not factoring the education needs and health care needs for online learning and health.  All of those are extremely important to vibrant, thriving communities and quality of life, a priority of the Chamber.", shared April Wehrs, Chamber President with the attendees.  

Representatives who spoke at the summit were Superintendent Joe Murphy, Representative Buddy Mincey, Congressman Garrett Graves, LPPS Technology Carlos Williams, State Broadband & Connective Director Veneeth Iyengar, Public Service Commissioners offices Brandon Frey and David Zito, North Oaks Health System Regina Scott, Northshore Technical Community College - Lizette Leader, Livingston Parish Library - Giovanni Tairou, Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce - April Wehrs & Trey Sanders, AT&T - Matt Adams, Charter - Brent Golleher, Cox Communications - Kristina Lagasse, Cox Business - Herbert Seals, Eatel - Tressy Elindecker.  

The summit brought to light the tremendous amount of funds that are available on the federal and state level for communities in unserved or underserved areas.  For Livingston Parish, the areas south and east of the parish were primarily discussed.  To access the funds, some do require a match and the question is hwo to get it.  With most of the areas needing assistance falling outside of municipalities, the outcome of access will fall within the parish president and parish council.  

So what's the next step?  In coordination with committee appointments between Representative Mincey, the parish council created the Linked Up Livingston Committee.  The following members of the committee were appointed.  For the Livingston Parish Chamber, board member James Moak, with a background in technology services, was appointed by Chamber Board Chair, Trey Sanders. Members of the committee are:

  • Bryan Martin, Livingston Parish President’s Office
  • Randy Delatte, Livingston Parish Council
  • Carlos Williams, Livingston Parish Public Schools
  • Jack Varnado, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • Johnathan “JT” Taylor, Town of Livingston Mayor
  • Giovanni Tairov, Livingston Parish Library
  • James Moak, Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce
  • Ryan Cross, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System
  • Krystal Hardison, Southeastern Louisiana University
  • Paul Sawyer, US Congressman Garret Graves Office
  • Edvante Showers, Showers Enterprises

The “Link Up” committee is the first of its kind in Livingston Parish, gathering many different organizations and people to expand the Broadband in the parish. As Livingston Parish works toward the future of normal, there is no doubt that broadband has become necessary for doing business.
The committee is looking to tackle the digital divide in Livingston Parish and hope to make it available in every part of the state by 2029.

From the Chamber, the chamber's board of directors voted to support the efforts to have a better and more connected Livingston Parish through this effort.  "We are glad to be a part of it and, in true business form, look forward to getting to this, finding options and seeing the issue resolved and addressed." 

More on this from the Livingston Parish News article linked here.