CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — The West Virginia Department of Economic Development has announced that $730,000 will go to the development of West Virginia’s Digital Equity Plan.

The funds come from the Digital Equity Planning Grant from the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA), created and funded by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and are part of the Internet for All initiative to develop digital equity plans across the nation.

“Too many West Virginians lack access to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet and we’re doing something about it,” said economic development secretary Mitch Carmichael. “Gov. Justice and everyone in his administration are committed to making West Virginia an economic powerhouse and that’s why we need to keep improving Internet infrastructure and information technology capacity for individuals, businesses and communities across our great state.”

Digital Equity is the ability of individuals and communities to effectively utilize their information technology capacity in society. The efforts to reach Digital Equity involve three main areas: affordable internet, access to appropriate devices and digital skills training.

The West Virginia Department of Economic Development, Office of Broadband, along with the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council and other strategic partners, will develop West Virginia’s Digital Equity Plan and Five-Year Broadband Action Plan, both required by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the NTIA, over the next year as part of Gov. Justice’s Billion Dollar Broadband Initiative. These plans are needed to obtain Infrastructure Act funding.

As we see federal law turn into actual funding for digital inclusion, it’s our time to start ‘Turning Our Moment into Movement,’ which is our theme for Digital Inclusion Week 2022,” said Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). “We invite advocates, policymakers, community leaders, educators, researchers, and others to come together this week – and all year long – to advance digital equity nationwide.”

Eligible West Virginians can register for the Affordable Connectivity Program and obtain federal assistance with Internet service by visiting https://www.fcc.gov/acp. Organizations that promote digital equity are encouraged to send their contact information to wvbroadband@wv.gov.

For more on Digital Inclusion Week, visit digitalinclusion.org/diw22. To learn more about West Virginia’s broadband development initiative, visit broadband.wv.gov.