WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has announced $3 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide broadband access in Barbour, Randolph and Upshur counties.
The grant will be matched with $450,000 in local funds, bringing the total project to nearly $3.5 million.
Funding will be used to deploy fixed wireless broadband to over 3,500 households and business in the tri-county region, providing broadband access to nearly 9,000 West Virginia residents and employers.
“Connecting West Virginia has always been top priorities of mine, and I’m thrilled that efforts like my Capito Connect plan are producing results that will help close the digital divide in our state,” Capito said. “This funding is a huge win for West Virginia and the residents and businesses in the tri-county region. I can’t wait to see the economic growth and opportunity this project will bring to our state, and I will continue working to provide similar opportunities across West Virginia.”
“Access to affordable broadband in West Virginia is critical to future economic growth and expanding education. USDA’s Community Connect program is an example of how communities can develop and implement their own solutions for improving broadband connectivity. This project was truly a team approach involving public and private sectors as well as community members working closely together for a common goal. Capito has worked tirelessly in Washington leading the charge to expand broadband funding opportunities for West Virginia communities and she has been a champion throughout this process,” said Robert Hinton, executive director of the Upshur County Development Authority.
“Today’s announcement is great news for the citizens of Barbour, Randolph and Upshur counties,” said Robbie Morris, executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority and the West Virginia Wood Technology Center. “These funds will provide this region of the state with access to true high speed broadband service for residents and businesses. Access to broadband is a necessity for economic development and improving the quality of life for our citizens.
“Randolph County is a gateway to many of our state’s most beautiful scenic attractions and providing visitors with the ability to remain connected will help grow our tourism economy. Senator Capito, through her Capito Connect Plan, was instrumental in helping the Central West Virginia Development Authority apply and secure these funds. As executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority, I thank her for her leadership and her commitment to broadband deployment across the mountain state.”
The Central West Virginia Development Association, LLC project is the first major broadband grant award in the state of West Virginia since Capito announced her Capito Connect plan in 2015. This project is an example of how communities across West Virginia can secure federal funds to deploy broadband through public-private partnerships.
The newly announced funding may be used for:
• Constructing, acquiring or leasing property or lands used to deploy broadband service;
• Providing broadband service free of charge for two years to facilities such as public schools, fire stations and public libraries; and
• Improving, expanding, constructing or acquiring a community center to provide online access to the public