To help address high-speed Internet issues in a four-county region, SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has been awarded a $40,000 grant.
The U.S. Appalachian Regional Commission grant will fund a study to provide local governments with a set of short-term and longer-term strategies to address rural high-speed Internet (broadband) deficiencies.
“Rural broadband, although often discussed as a major issue within the region, has not been widely acted upon because of the lack of information about the tasks, activities, and costs of developing, testing, and maintaining a highspeed broadband infrastructure,” said Scott Kramer, SEDA-COG Information Technologies Group specialist. “This grant will provide the needed information to help local leaders and stakeholders make prudent decisions about next steps to expand broadband access.”
The study will assess broadband needs, especially focusing on businesses, and evaluate current broadband infrastructure and services in Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, and Union counties.
With this information, three key areas of need will be identified in each participating county. Determining the best technology options for priority areas will be based on geography and demographics; proximity to schools, libraries, hospitals, public safety, cities, and other institutions; and implementation costs.
To later implement a broadband project in each of those counties, SEDA-COG also will create a model Request for Proposals (RFP).
These awards are part of ARC’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) initiative, a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America's energy production. With this funding, ARC has invested over $120 million in 149 projects touching 309 counties across Appalachia since 2015.
“This announcement shows continued support for the work already underway to create new opportunities for those living in communities hardest hit by changes in the coal industry,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “These grants are a commitment to long-term diversification and economic growth in Appalachia.”