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Door County businesses, realtors impacted by poor internet quality in rural areas

Posted at 7:57 PM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 20:57:54-05

DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (NBC26) -- Throughout the pandemic, our computers have been busy. And many people continue to work remote.

That's why rural Door County, Wis., is struggling.

"We have a lot of remote workers in Door County," Steve Jenkins, Door County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director, said. "And we could have more if we had better broadband service."

Parts of Door County do not have reliable internet connection, if any at all. While the Economic Development Corporation looks into the issue, businesses have had trouble getting new hires to move to the area.

"We have a lot of interest... and then they come to the area and fall in love," Door County Medical Center CIO Erick Schrier said about job candidates. "And then they look at purchasing a home and they find out they cannot get high-speed internet at that location."

The internet can be so bad, workers will commute from places with sufficient connection.

"We have a lot of our own staff that live here in Sturgeon Bay," Schrier said. "We also have staff that will commute from Green Bay, because they get better high-speed internet down in Green Bay."

Some realtors are struggling to sell homes in Door County. They say buyers don't want a home without a reliable internet connection.

"It's sporadic, it's location-dependent," Door County realtor Matt Stone said about the area's internet. "It's something that we have learned to communicate with these buyers pretty much right away when they're looking at a property now."

But improvements could be on the way. The Economic Development Corporation is trying to fix the internet, starting with a "broadband analysis" in January 2021.

"We want to develop a comprehensive strategy for broadband development... with the ultimate goal of fiber to every house and business," Jenkins said.