Number of Employees:
Number of Access Lines:
- Beech Grove
- Bon DeCroft
- McMinnville Rural
- Old Zion
- Rock Island
- Sparta Rural
- Tracy City
It’s been a busy year at Ben Lomand Connect, with a familiar face taking the reins and guiding the cooperative in its efforts to bring fiber to middle Tennessee.
Lisa Cope, a 22-year veteran with Ben Lomand Connect, was named general manager and chief executive officer after serving as interim CEO for several months.
Under Cope’s leadership, Ben Lomand Connect celebrated two accomplishments in October that make the cooperative one of only about 90 in the country to be certified a Gig-Capable Provider by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.
The cooperative also received the Smart Rural Community distinction for its service area, which includes all of Grundy, Warren and White counties and portions of Coffee, DeKalb, Marion, Bedford, Franklin, Van Buren and Rutherford counties.
The Smart Rural Community designation from NTCA recognizes the work that has been done in the community to put the updated network to use.
Cope served as controller at Ben Lomand and wasn’t looking to change her career path, but she accepted the role of interim CEO to provide continuity until a permanent CEO was found.
For Cope, though, it didn’t matter what the job title was.
“I have always been passionate about Ben Lomand, our employees, the work we do and, most importantly, the people we serve,” she says.
Cope has lived in Van Buren County most of her life, near Falls Creek Falls State Park. As Cope filled in as interim CEO, she realized she could have an impact on helping shape the future of the cooperative and the community it serves.
Cope says Ben Lomand Connect has always worked to deliver the technology needed to keep members and communities connected, but the efforts to become a gig-capable provider has been an important step.
She says they see almost daily what customers are doing with broadband to make their operations run more smoothly and compete in a bigger market.
“While many large cities struggle to bring such technology to their citizens, your cooperative can connect a growing number of its members with speeds up to 100 times faster than those available in many U.S. households,” Cope says.
She says Ben Lomand Connect’s work is more important now than ever because broadband has become as crucial to the region’s success as reliable electricity, clean water and a dependable transportation system.
“For us to compete, grow jobs and improve education and health care, a high-speed connection to the internet is no longer optional,” Cope says.
Ben Lomand, like many cooperatives across rural America, serves a region of small communities. The cooperative covers about 3,200 square miles.
From an economic and engineering standpoint, it is a challenge to serve such a
wide area, especially one with a relatively small number of customers per mile, but the cooperative is delivering some of the most advanced technology available.
Cope says she expects more strategic planning to grow and upgrade the broadband network in the most efficient responsible manner.
It’s also important to provide as many training opportunities for employees so they stay up to date as the technology continues to change.
Town hall meetings have been planned throughout the service territory to hear from members.
“We want to focus our cooperative on positive interactions with customers, being a quality and trusted business partner in the community, serving as a good steward of our members’ resources, and engaging our team to give the members the best service experience possible,” she says. “Our members can expect a cooperative that listens and is responsive to their needs.”