As an economic development council of governments, DRIVE is an adaptive organization launched with a mission to provide professional services to businesses to help them create family-sustaining wages in a five-county region.
By amplifying the work of others and leaning into its strengths in real estate and infrastructure development, the organization has been a force for positive change. This was particularly evident in the past 18 months as it joined forces with others to pioneer wireless technology, helping close the internet gap and revolutionize life in rural Central Pennsylvania.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of Americans to work and go to school at home, DRIVE recognized the struggles that many local employees and students faced as they either did not have internet or their service was far below the minimum FCC standard of speeds. As a result, the organization brought together the commissioners from Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties, asking them to commit a portion of their CARES Act Funds toward building a fixed-based wireless broadband network in their respective counties.
DRIVE worked with county 911 services to access tower sites for the network and met with local landowners about utilizing assets such as grain silos on which to mount equipment for the network. As built, the network consists of three silos, two business rooftops, and 16 towers to propagate the broadband signal. Hundreds of customers are already utilizing the network with new connections being made across the region daily.
Having long been recognized as a leader in creating opportunities for collaboration between the public and private sector in unique ways, DRIVE has also worked collaboratively with county industrial development groups to purchase and rehabilitate brownfield properties, breathing new life into communities in Central Pennsylvania. DRIVE has also partnered with Bloomsburg University and local business leaders to develop the DRIVE Forward initiative, a future-forward adaptive plan that brings together area resources to improve economic diversity.