WASHINGTON, D.C. – It was announced Tuesday that three entities in West Virginia will receive nearly $500,000 to help improve broadband coverage. The $485,435 will be used to improve broadband coverage through technical assistance and engineering studies in three different counties across the state.
The Webster County Economic Development Authority will get the largest chuck of the grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, to the tune of $250,000. The grant will fund an engineering study to analyze existing internet coverage that is inadequate in the area, and design the broadband infrastructure needed to expand service to Webster Springs, Cowen, Parcoal-Curtin, Upperglade and Camden-on-Gauley, according to a news release.
A West Virginia University project in McDowell County will get $140,648.
Williams Health & Wellness Center in Mingo County is set to receive $94,787. It will fund an engineering study for a municipal network to provide enhanced broadband access to Williamson. In addition to ARC funds, the Williamson Health and Wellness Center will provide an additional $23,697, bringing the project total to $118,484, officials said.
Members of the U.S. Congressional delegation issued statements following the announcement.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D):
“Adequate access to broadband is crucial to the health of West Virginia businesses and communities. Without access to quality, dependable broadband coverage, West Virginia businesses simply cannot compete in the 21st century economy and our communities suffer because of it. This is why I have made improving broadband access across West Virginia one of my top priorities in Washington. The ARC has always been a great partner for West Virginia and I applaud them on these investments in our wonderful state.”
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R):
“High-speed internet service is essential in the 21st century. West Virginia communities need access to this invaluable tool in order to provide opportunity and educate the next generation. We have made significant progress in expanding broadband infrastructure through my Capito Connect plan and local efforts, but a lot of work remains to be done. The Appalachian Regional Commission has been an integral partner in this endeavor, and I am proud to be able to work with federal co-chair Tim Thomas to make sure broadband continues to be a priority. Thanks to this funding, local leaders in Mingo, McDowell, and Webster counties can take another step toward bringing increased connectivity to their communities.”
U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (R):
“This is fantastic news. We must bring broadband to our rural communities to create opportunities for small business growth in southern West Virginia. This funding will create new jobs, grow our economy, and help connect our state through increased e-commerce.”