Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Stuart McWhorter announced Monday that the state will award $446,770,282 in grants for the expansion of internet access across the state of Tennessee.
In total, the broadband infrastructure grants will provide broadband access to more than 150,000 unserved homes and businesses across 58 counties.
- Ben Lomand
$23,912,632.40 – serving parts of Coffee and Cumberland counties
- Board of Public Utilities of the City of Fayetteville, Lincoln County, Tennessee
$8,899,590.00 – serving parts of Lincoln County
- United Telephone Company
$53,362,147.00 – serving parts of Bedford, Giles, Lincoln, Moore, Maury and Williamson counties
Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham Reacts:
Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham expressed his pleasure at the announcement of a state grant, totaling more than $6 million, to expand broadband services in Bedford County.
“Whether it’s applying for a job, completing school assignments, working from home due to illness, or tracking personal finances, high-speed Internet access has become an essential utility, much like power or water,” said Graham. “Since taking office, I’ve been working with county commissioners, utilities, and the state to explore ways that we can get service to areas of the county where it’s still not available or affordable. I am delighted that this state grant will help us make significant progress towards that goal.”
Bedford County Board of Commissioners has agreed to fund 15 percent of the project cost, not to exceed $700,000, and United Communications will match that amount. United, which is working with Duck River Electric Membership Corp. on its rural broadband projects in Bedford County, says the state grant will significantly increase the scope of its ongoing projects in the county. The grant will allow it to offer broadband Internet service to 942 eligible locations.
The grant-funded project will take up to three years to complete, including engineering, permitting, construction, testing, and connecting the service to homes and businesses.
For any utility, rural areas are a challenge – the fewer homes there are per mile of road, the harder it becomes to justify the cost of installing expensive service lines. In much of the area covered by this grant, there are fewer than 10 residents per mile of line. The assistance which the state grant will provide helps to overcome that challenge and make it possible for the lines to be run.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Graham. “I want to thank Gov. Lee and Commissioner McWhorter for this state grant. I’d also like to thank all of the county commissioners for their support, and particularly Commissioner Greg Vick for his hard work on this issue. I’d also like to thank Tennessee Speaker Pro Tem Pat Marsh and State Sen. Shane Reeves for being there for us whenever we’re involved in any state project.
“And, of course, I want to thank both United Communications and Duck River Electric for their hard work on all of this. Duck River Electric is based here in Shelbyville, and United Communications is right in our backyard, and I think their concern for our community is evident.”