WASHINGTON — A $1 million federal grant to increase internet connectivity is coming to an Elkins agency.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced that the department’s Economic Development Administration is providing a $1.7 million grant to Woodlands Development Group, Inc., of Elkins, to support the growth of businesses and jobs by increasing internet connectivity in underserved communities.
The grant, funded by the U.S. Bailout and the EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Pledge, will support the deployment of 58 miles of aerial fiber to underserved communities in Randolph and Tucker counties, an area affected by the decline in the use of coal.
The EDA investment will be matched by $2.5 million in other federal funds and is expected to create 75 jobs, maintain 82 jobs and generate $13.8 million in private investment, according to recipient estimates.
“Access to affordable and reliable broadband is critical to the success and growth of our communities across West Virginia, which is why I am pleased that the EDA is supporting the Woodlands Development Group’s efforts to spur the connectivity in Randolph and Tucker counties”, said Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va. “West Virginia continues to see the benefits of critical U.S. bailout investments that are driving economic development and creating well-paying, long-term jobs, and I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this funding for our communities. .”
“I am thrilled to see that Randolph County has received this EDA grant to support business and job growth in Elkins,” Congressman Alex Mooney, RW.Va., said. “The installation of underground fiber optic cables is vital to the competitive future of rural communities. This funding will help accelerate high-speed Internet access and spur job creation in Randolph and Tucker counties.
This project is funded through the EDA’s US Bailout Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, which makes $500 million in economic adjustment assistance grants available to US communities. The Economic Adjustment Assistance Program is EDA’s most flexible program, and grants awarded through this program will help hundreds of communities across the country plan, build, innovate, and rehabilitate people. work through construction projects or not designed to meet local needs.
“President Biden is committed to harnessing the full power of the federal government to ensure that our nation not only recovers from this pandemic, but builds a better America for the future,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. “This award reaffirms the President’s commitment to increasing Internet accessibility across the United States and lays a solid foundation for the critical investments we will make to grow high-speed Internet through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act. “
“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This investment will improve connectivity for small businesses, remote learners, underserved residents and remote workers in Randolph and Tucker counties while helping the region transition from a coal-centric economy.”
The EDA’s Coal Communities Pledge allocates $300 million of the EDA’s $3 billion U.S. bailout to support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic and to help them create new jobs and opportunities, in particular through the creation or expansion of a new industrial sector. Specifically, the EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Effective May 26, the EDA officially closed all of its US bailout programs for applications.
Funding for the $3 billion program will be provided on an ongoing basis through September 30.