Finding internet in Benzie County is sometimes hit or miss. Many rural parts of the region don’t have any connection at all, holding businesses and homeowners back.

Now, the county commissioners have partnered with a new internet service provider to expand access in the area.

They’re working with Eclipse Communications to build up internet infrastructure locally.

The company says they’ll have the southern chunk of the community ready to go by the end of the year, and 60% total coverage in two years and 80% in five years, according to minutes from the Benzie Economic Development Broadband Subcommittee meeting minutes.

The Benzie Chamber of Commerce says this is huge news for local business.

“This is a major, major accomplishment,” said chamber executive director Rick Coates. “From a business standpoint, from an education standpoint, from a health standpoint, and the list goes on we need better connectivity.”

Coates hopes the access will encourage businesses to move into town, and it will be reason for existing establishments to stay.

For years, Beulah’s Ursa Major Bistro and Coffee House has been one of the only places on the block with good WiFi.

While many come for owner Kelly Chorley’s signature cookies and Reuben’s, many tourists stop by to get online.

“We have a lot of surprise, ‘oh my gosh, how is there no internet in this cabin?’ and they come visit us all summer long,” said Chorley. “We give them a corner to camp out all day long, do their business meetings, do their work…it happens a lot. I have people that pull up to use the internet.”

Eclipse says they plan to build up infrastructure in Beulah, with potential to install fiber capacity down the line.

Eclipse will be releasing a coverage area map sometime in the spring.

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