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South City welcomes new Tech Learning Hub to increase digital equity

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 5:16 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Local leaders and members of the South City Foundation cut the ribbon on a new Tech Learning Hub Wednesday.

Located in the Orange Avenue public housing complex, this center provides free internet access, technical assistance and monthly skill-building workshops to South Side residents.

When the pandemic first started, about 800 students in South City did not have the necessary technology to participate in digital learning.

Local leaders say establishing this hub is a big step toward digital equity, not only for students, but for adults who might need access to online job applications or telehealth services.

“It’s the small things that you don’t see that count,” Katrina Tuggerson, president of the Capital City Chamber of Commerce, said. “You can’t see Wi-Fi. But you do know when you don’t have access to it, because it makes a difference in communities like these.”

South City residents now have a new spot for all their digital needs.

“For so many of us access to high-speed internet is just a given,” State Senator Loranne Ausley said. “It’s a necessary part of our daily lives. Today we’re making this a reality for our neighbors here in South City.

More than 40% of South City residents live below the poverty line.

“It be pretty tough for people out here sometimes,” South Side resident Jeremy Belardo said. “Everybody can’t afford internet.”

Belardo said he comes to the local library almost every day to use the internet.

“I don’t have internet access at home,” he said. “But in order for me to be able to apply for jobs or whatever I need internet access for, that’s why I come to the library.”

Now that the South City Tech Learning Hub is opening, Belardo said he’ll consider utilizing its services as well.

Ausley said establishing this center is an important step toward the South City Foundation’s goal of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

“Our mission is to work side by side with the people who live here to honor the rich history of South City while securing its future.”

An attorney with Legal Services of North Florida is also offering free civil legal services at the Learning Center Hub.

She’s able to help out with everything from family law to housing to public benefits and will be in her office Monday through Thursday each week.

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