A new survey reports that the city of Warren is the fifth least internet-connected city in Ohio.

That’s why city and valley leaders are coming together to help bridge the digital divide.

“Modern society demands that you be connected,” explained Pat Kerrigan, executive director of Oak Hill Collaborative.

The recent US Census Bureau report inspired the City of Warren, TCAP, Oak Hill Collaborative and TMHA to create a new initiative to help those struggling to navigate the World Wide Web.

“Being armed with this information, it was important for us to take action and make sure we close this gap,” said Mayor Doug Franklin.

Warren-Trumbull Digital Advantage Center is an education system that is already a success in Youngstown.

“We were approached by Warren officials to see what we were doing in Mahoning County and Youngstown and they said they would like us to do it for them,” Kerrigan said.

Warren’s digital initiative will eventually provide free internet and computer training as well as discounted computers to those who need them.

“How we do it is we get computers from a variety of sources and then we refurbish them or have them refurbished,” Kerrigan added.

Mayor Franklin and Kerrigan agree that there are endless benefits to using this program.

“They can do telemedicine and they have job opportunities that will be close at hand,” Mayor Franklin added. “It’s also an educational program for our elders.”

“We think this stuff is necessary to bring people back into the mainstream,” Kerrigan added.

“This whole process has been very rewarding because all of our partners recognized and understood the challenge and rose to the challenge and worked with us to bring us to this day to roll out this program,” Mayor Franklin said.

Kerrigan said the money to fund this initiative could come from ARP dollars from city or county commissioners to hopefully expand the program throughout Trumbull County.