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State, federal funds to expand broadband access in seven counties

by Compiled by Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Jun 21, 2023 at 0:00 AM

On June 12, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the USDA announced grants totaling more than $24 million to expand broadband access in seven Georgia Counties.

Kemp announced nearly $15 million in preliminary grant awards for broadband internet expansion through the second round of the Capital Projects Fund Grant Program. These awards will improve connectivity for communities, households, businesses, and anchor institutions in Calhoun, Echols, Miller and Webster counties.

The state awards – three to Windstream, one to the city of Colquitt in Miller County – will enable high-speed internet access to 3,501 locations.

"Since day one, my administration has prioritized bringing opportunity to all parts of our state, including those areas often overlooked," said Governor Brian Kemp. "These projects are just the latest steps we've taken to connect Georgians in rural communities with professional and educational opportunities, building on the significant progress we have made in recent years to close the digital divide."

When combined with significant capital matches from the awardees, almost $30 million will be invested to serve areas most in need of high-speed internet access. These awards follow the $234 million in preliminary grant funds for 28 counties that the state announced in January.

On Aug. 12, 2022, Governor Kemp announced the creation of the Capital Projects Fund Grant Program, utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The Governor’s Office of Planning & Budget and the Georgia Technology Authority worked together to identify the most unserved and underserved counties in the state and establish a competitive grant process to receive applications for Governor Kemp’s final consideration.

The USDA awarded $9.47 million in Rural ReConnect Grant funding for high-speed internet expansion in Candler, Evans and Tattnall counties, where Pembroke Telephone Company, which will use the funds to deploy a fiber-to-the premises network to provide high-speed internet. This network will benefit 3,332 people, 55 businesses, 120 farms and four educational facilities in the three counties, according to the USDA.

The Georgia awards were part of a nationwide total of $714 million worth of Rural ReConnect Grants announced on June. 12.

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