Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding an $800,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, South Boston, Virginia, to increase broadband capacity in southern and central Virginia and bolster the region’s ability to withstand future economic disruptions. This EDA grant will be matched with $200,000 in local investment.
“The Economic Development Administration is committed to helping communities across the nation implement strategies to mitigate economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This EDA investment will allow for greater business growth and economic development in the region by supporting the engineering and design of a new 206-mile route of fiber infrastructure that will span 14 counties.”
“Access to reliable high-speed internet continues to be one of the key issues facing rural communities across our Commonwealth and country,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Working with our federal partners to enhance and expand broadband service is one of my highest priorities, and this funding will go a long way in connecting unserved homes and businesses in southern and central regions of our Commonwealth so they can compete and thrive in our digital world.”
“The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative has been the Commonwealth’s core pillar for broadband expansion since its creation during my time as Governor,” said Senator Mark Warner. “With the COVID-19 crisis underscoring the importance of broadband for telework, telehealth, and remote learning, the cooperative’s work is more important than ever to bridge the digital divide. I’m pleased to announce this critical federal funding that will assist with expanding infrastructure to get more families connected to broadband.”
“This EDA funding will help better connect people across the Commonwealth, as many Virginians still do not have reliable access to broadband internet amid the pandemic,” said Senator Tim Kaine. “This investment is an important step in expanding access to broadband in rural areas across the state while also providing opportunities for economic development for years to come.”
The EDA investment will address rural Virginia’s economic need for consistent broadband service by enabling the expansion of an existing fiber-optic infrastructure network to alleviate the lack of reliable broadband access while strengthening the region’s overall economic competitiveness. Additionally, the new infrastructure will provide fiber connections not only to healthcare facilities, medical research centers, and existing businesses but also to industrial and technology parks representing more than 4,500 acres available for commercial development.
This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136 PDF), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) program, provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.