SPENCER, W.Va. (WV News) — Set to begin construction in January, a fiber network will, at its completion, provide high-speed broadband service to 8,500 households in the eight counties of Roane, Jackson, Calhoun, Clay, Braxton, Webster, Gilmer and Nicholas.

At a unique ‘ribbon cutting’ in Spencer, representatives from the parties most involved in moving this $23 million project forward cut a symbolic fiber that will be the source of this major impact on rural West Virginia.

“I want to commend and honor all of those who had a part in bringing this project to fruition,” West Virginia Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael said. “This will impact educational opportunities for children and adults, the access to healthcare and will be the driving force behind economic expansion. Over 300,000 people in WV are without adequate broadband service and will have the fastest fiberoptic service in the world in the next few years.”

Carmichael said that when people are brought together, progress, understanding and opportunities are provided.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito was lauded for her help in securing funding and dealing with regulatory issues and her ‘Capito Connect’ initiative.

“We have $1.2 billion coming on top of the funds already received,” she said. “We will get to that last house. I commend CityNet for its ingenuity, flexibility and dedication to the state of West Virginia. This is a wonderful public-private partnership and shows that we can get this done.”

CityNet will be involved in many broadband projects in the next few years.

“If we don’t get broadband to every single house and every single business in West Virginia in the next five years, then shame on us,” CityNet President and CEO Jim Martin said. “We have the funding and the willpower. With fiber, there is no limitation on how fast it can go. This money puts the infrastructure in place and we’re proud to be part of this.”

The Roane County Economic Development Authority (RCEDA) has led the way on this project. Funding comes from a $17,057,869 grant from the West Virginia Department of Economic GigReady Incentive Program. An additional $5,685,596 match came through a partnership between the RCEDA and CityNet. The project is expected to take two years to complete.