NewsHillsborough County


New program bridges digital divide for businesses, homes in Wimauma

Non-profit organizes internet network in Wimauma
Posted at 5:59 PM, Jul 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-05 18:50:35-04

WIMAUMA, Fla. — A new program in Wimauma is working to bridge the digital divide in the community. It’s called Wimauma Connects.

The non-profit, Enterprising Latinas, is organizing it, with funding from Allegany Franciscan Ministries.

“We found that a lot of people don’t have it, they can’t afford it, it’s not on their list of their priorities,” said Santos Morales, the director of economic prosperity for Enterprising Latinas.

The organization works with women to create new opportunity through workforce development, training and education.

“Internet access is one of those mediums that help people connect with opportunities,” he said.

Nine businesses along State Road 674 in Wimauma Village agreed to have antennas installed outside.

“It’s really gonna make a difference and move everything a step forward for the community,” said Eileen Coogan, the CEO of Allegany Franciscan Ministries.

Together they are meshed to form internet access. Morales said about two dozen businesses and residences within 500 feet of the antenna can connect.

“Everything that we do on our daily lives is connected through the internet so having wifi in the community allows the community to be connected, to be able to look for jobs, children to do homework, business owners to provide internet to their patrons when they come in,” Morales said.

According to a Pew Research Center, report more than 4 in 10 U.S. adults making under $30,000 a year in household income didn’t report having home broadband.

“This is a lot of help for the community,” said Mireya Pimentel, the manager for Restaurant El Sol.

The restaurant has an antenna outside.

“We growing, before we don’t have nothing in Waumauma, so come to see us okay,” Pimentel said.

Morales said phase two of the project starts this month with plans to expand and strengthen the wifi, allowing around 75 residences to access the internet.