Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $960,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the Board of County Commissioners of Garrett County, Oakland, Maryland, to increase access to affordable, reliable, and abundant internet service in western Maryland. This EDA grant, to be matched with $240,000 in state and local funds, is expected to create or retain more than 170 jobs.
“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 support the design and installation of approximately fifteen miles of gigabit broadband fiber, supporting key businesses and community stakeholders in southern Garrett County and facilitating private sector investment in broadband service.”
“Access to broadband is a critical public utility and a necessary resource for the success of any community,” said Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Senate EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “With the strong support of Congress, the Economic Development Administration continues to play a key role in supporting rural Maryland that has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding broadband access for businesses and residential areas helps people stay in their jobs while working remotely, connect to new opportunities, advance their education, and look after their health—all of which are key to our economic recovery and development. I am proud to be one of the lead cosponsors of bipartisan legislation, the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act that will expand the reach of EDA grants for broadband projects in rural areas of Maryland and across the country.”
“Access to broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity – it is the 21st century equivalent to the need for electricity in the last century,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “It’s a vital link to opportunity for families, small businesses, and communities across our state. I was proud to fight for this federal investment to bring Western Maryland’s communities reliable internet access and ultimately grow educational and economic opportunities throughout the region. I will continue working in Congress to support economic development in our state and expand Marylanders’ universal access to broadband.”
“I worked hard to pass the CARES Act through Congress in order to bring funding for broadband to Garrett County and address inequities in our rural communities,” said Congressman David Trone (MD-06). “This critical broadband funding will support tele-work, tele-health, and tele-education across Garrett County, creating over 170 jobs along the way. The continued partnership between the Garrett County Commissioners, the state of Maryland, and the federal government will be critical to continue investing in this important infrastructure and bring our communities into the 21st Century.”
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 invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.