Schools

WHIN grant to fund Chromebooks at CHS

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A grant from the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network will bring a host of new Google Chromebooks to students at Crawfordsville High School for the 2022-23 school year.

The grant, totaling $98,685, is the latest in a series of investments made in Montgomery County in recent years by the growing tech company, all aimed at making West Central Indiana a global haven for technology and agriculture.

Crawfordsville Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling announced the grant Tuesday during a district meeting. He said the tech company is partnering with schools to get in on the area’s technological ground floor, and to gather valuable data considered vital to its plans.

“The goal for this is to try to turn this area of the country into the Silicon Valley of tech-agriculture. So it’s really interesting, and they want schools to be a part of that,” he said. “They’re trying to get everything wired, and broadband is really important for them.”

Companies like WHIN and Tipmont REMC — even the state legislature —is trying to make rural broadband access a reality.

Earlier this year, Montgomery County earned a Broadband Ready certification from the state, making it eligible for grant programs both local institutions as well as individuals.

Some qualifications required to be considered “broadband ready” included an expedited application process for those applying for grants, “that way there isn’t a burdensome process to get broadband installed,” County Administrator Tom Klein said in March. “The state has a Next Levels program and people are actually applying. Broadband companies can submit an area ... and the state would help subsidize that.

“Tipmont also has a plan to expand their program in the north part of the county, and also into Tippecanoe County,” Klein added. “They have a three- or four-year plan.”

For the state, officials have said they plan to invest $270 million in broadband accessibility this year.

WHIN officials have been meeting with community leaders like Bowling and Klein for several years. In September 2021, the company met with movers and shakers following a March 2020 grant given to Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana West Advantage which totaled more than $889,000.

“WHIN is committed to cultivating a regional ecosystem where globally competitive businesses will plant and grow,” WHIN CEO Johnny Park told Chamber of Commerce and Community Foundation officials at the September meeting. “Our strategy is to develop our region as a Living Laboratory for digital agriculture and next-generation manufacturing.”

For more information about WHIN, visit www.whin.org. To learn more about Tipmont REMC’s efforts, visit www.tipmont.org.

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