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Closing the Digital Divide: Statewide Coalition Rebrands as “Let’s Connect NY”

October 5, 2023

Greater Rochester Chamber is a proud part of "Let's Connect New York" – a coalition of 40 diverse members of New York State organizations statewide representing a wide range of interests – from public safety and higher education to health care and digital literacy – focusing on bringing reliable online access to all New Yorkers.

Formerly known as “New Yorkers for 5G”, the newly reconstituted coalition will expand its focus to prioritize bringing fast, reliable connectivity to every corner of the state and closing the digital divide. Greater Rochester Chamber and other coalition members are united in the belief that robust and high-speed online access is critical to propelling New York’s economic growth while supporting and improving public safety, health, education, and more.

The reality is that more than one million – or 13.8 percent – households in New York did not have access or a subscription to home broadband services in 2019, according to a report by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. And, racial and ethnic minority groups have even lower rates of broadband coverage compared to the overall state population. According to the American Immigration Council, in 2019, nearly one in four people – or 23.9 percent – of racial and ethnic minorities did not have high-speed internet at home. Research also finds that rural communities disproportionately suffer from minimal to no broadband coverage, with 31.2 percent of rural New York residents lacking access to broadband internet.

Among the benefits of a connected future for New York are enhanced public safety with timely access to emergency help lines, expanded access to public health and medical services, and improved education and communication for digital classrooms. Over the next 10 years, the wireless industry – powered by 5G technology in New York – is projected to generate $123.8 billion GDP growth and 291,200 jobs statewide.

Bob Duffy, President & CEO of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce said, "Expanding broadband is vital for New York's communities. Reliable internet fuels remote work, telehealth, education, and innovation and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce continues to support employing public-private partnerships to achieve that access. New York has made important strides in this space, and we look forward to working with our partners in government and the private sector on ensuring connectivity for all.”

Melva Miller, CEO at the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) said, "With the launch of Let's Connect NY, we can seize the moment to bridge the digital divide and create a future where every New Yorker benefits from high-speed connectivity. By embracing all technologies and ensuring equitable access, we will lay the foundation for a stronger, more connected, and inclusive New York State, expanding access to high-speed internet across communities and business sectors." - Melva M. Miller, CEO of the Association for a Better New York.”

Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code said, "At Girls Who Code, we know how important it is for young people to have access to the tools and resources needed to thrive in their personal and professional lives. Equitable access to resources like high-speed internet is paramount to their success, which is why we're working with Let's Connect NY to bring reliable internet across New York to those who need it."

Michael Oates, President & CEO at Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC) said, “In this digital age, businesses across every sector require advanced connectivity to not just compete but truly thrive. HVEDC is thrilled to join Let's Connect NY in spreading this critical message throughout the Hudson Valley and across the entire state of New York."

Tom Grech, President & CEO at the Queens Chamber of Commerce (QCoC) said, "In the digital age, connectivity is the cornerstone of economic growth. Let's Connect NY is an essential initiative that recognizes the potential of every corner of our state. By championing high-speed wireless service, we're empowering businesses to thrive and communities to flourish."

Jim Whelan, Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) said, “Ensuring widespread access to next-generation connectivity will help strengthen New York’s economy as we continue on the path to long-term recovery. REBNY is pleased to work with Let’s Connect NY and its partners to promote sensible strategies for addressing the digital divide.”

Anthony Lewis, Region Vice President of Public Policy at Verizon said, "Verizon is proud to stand with Let's Connect NY in our shared commitment to deliver fast online access to every New Yorker. Through innovation, investment, and cooperation, we can bridge the digital divide and ensure that reliable, high-speed wireless service reaches even the most remote corners of our state."

Sarah Kaufman, Director of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation said, "The NYU Rudin Center eagerly anticipates the evolution of advanced communication technologies in New York. These innovations are essential in enhancing the safety, connectivity, and efficiency of our transportation systems, ultimately shaping a smarter, more interconnected future."

Ana Rua, Director East Area, Crown Castle said, "The recent federal investments earmarked for New York marks a turning point in the state’s commitment to digital equity. This substantial funding presents a transformative opportunity to bridge the gap in broadband data, affordability, access, and availability. Let’s Connect NY is arriving precisely when our state needs it most.”

Anthony Gaddy, Co-Founder & President/CEO of the Upstate New York Black Chamber of Commerce (USNYBCC) said, "Our mission at the UpState New York Black Chamber of Commerce is to empower and uplift Black-owned businesses and ensure they have the resources and tools necessary to succeed. That simply is not possible given the digital divide that we know continues to disproportionately impact communities of color. Fast, reliable, and accessible connectivity is a critical tool for economic growth and success. We're excited to be a part of Let's Connect NY's efforts to ensure that every corner of the state is connected and the digital divide is closed once and for all."

Robert Simpson, President & CEO of CenterState CEO said, “Access to fast and reliable 5G connectivity is essential for our region to maximizing the moment of growth and progress fueled by investments being made by Micron Technologies and others across Central New York. Strategic investments in infrastructure that ensures broad access is critical if we are to realize our vision to create an innovative and thriving tech hub and ensure we have the talent with the skills and knowledge to fill those jobs of the future."


About Let’s Connect NY
Let’s Connect NY was formed to educate residents, businesses, and decision makers about the efforts underway to deliver fast online access to residents in every corner of the state, as well as the importance of increasing connectivity and advocating for policies that will bring high-speed wireless service to every New Yorker. Coalition members are united in the belief that a robust and high-speed wireless network is paramount to propelling New York’s economic growth while supporting and improving public safety, health, education, and so much more. To learn more, visit our website here. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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