Area Counties to Benefit from Broadband Grants

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter announced Tuesday that the state will award $162.7 million in broadband and digital opportunity grants, including two “middle mile” grants that involve area counties.

United Communications, which has worked closely with the local Connect Bedford committee on broadband projects, received a $3,150,107 grant for “middle mile” projects in Franklin, Moore, and Bedford counties and a $3,058,513 grant for “middle mile” projects in Bedford, Rutherford and, Marshall counties.

“We are grateful to the state of Tennessee and our partner United Communications in making this grant award possible,” said Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham. “Over $6 million will go a long way in reaching our goal to be one of the first fully connected rural counties in Tennessee. High-speed connectivity will make Bedford better.”

The local Connect Bedford committee is continuing to work on additional funding opportunities which will provide a service to more local residents and businesses, and which will benefit local workforce development.

In total, these investments will provide broadband access and digital opportunity programs to more than 236,000 Tennesseans across 92 counties.

The term “middle mile” refers to infrastructure upgrade projects that don’t directly connect to customers, although they make such projects possible. “Last mile projects are those that connect directly to end users. In this case, the state required that anyone applying for middle-mile funding show that it is necessary for new or upgraded last-mile service.

“Broadband is essential to all Tennesseans, and that’s why we are making strategic investments in our state’s broadband infrastructure and digital opportunity programs to create a pathway to education, job training and greater opportunity statewide,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for their continued support and management of these broadband dollars.”

With today’s announcement, TNECD has invested more than $715 million to expand the state’s broadband infrastructure, connecting more than 689,000 Tennesseans across 275,000 residential and business locations.

“More than $715 million has been invested to expand broadband under Governor Lee’s administration, and we are excited to announce additional funding today that will ensure Tennesseans have access to and benefit from high-speed internet, which opens the door to high-quality job training,” said Commissioner McWhorter.

A total of $97.2 million is being funded by the Last Mile and Middle Mile infrastructure programs, and $65.5 million will be invested in digital opportunity programs. These initiatives are part of a broader strategy to ensure that all residents have access to high-speed internet by 2028 and have opportunities to develop digital skills, access high-quality tech jobs, connect to broadband-enabled devices, and access online learning and telehealth resources.

TNECD’s investment of $97.2 million in broadband infrastructure will provide access to more than 58,200 Tennesseans across 23,000 locations in 37 counties.

To learn more about Tennessee’s broadband initiatives or apply for these programs, go to https://www.tn.gov/ecd/rural-development/broadband-office.html.

Lucky Knott

Lucky Knott

One of Southern Tennessee's most experienced and recognized news broadcasters and play-by-play sportscasters. News and Sports Director for Rooster 101.5 FM, 93.9 The Duck and Whiskey Country 105.1, and 95.9. He is currently the play-by-play voice of the Coffee County Red Raiders (31 years) on The Rooster 101.5 and can be heard M-F broadcasting our local news. Lucky has done play-by-play for 3,993 (and counting) sports events on Radio & TV. He also served four years as the Public Information Officer for the Coffee Co. Sheriff's Dept. and taught Radio/TV for six years at Grundy County High School.

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