Colorado Receives Rural Broadband Grant
DENVER — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a grant award of $2.7M to Emery Telecommunications & Video, Inc. (Emery Telecom) today, expanding western Colorado’s rural broadband access to an additional 494 homes, farms, businesses and community anchor institutions located in the town of Dove Creek and Dolores County. This weekend in Montrose, Governor Polis released the administration’s Rural Economic Blueprint, which outlines ways the administration will continue building a Colorado that works for everyone, especially those outside of the Front Range. Governor Jared Polis is committed to modernizing Colorado’s broadband infrastructure to expand internet access across the state and help rural communities overcome economic challenges.
“Colorado’s rural communities need access to affordable and reliable broadband is critical to our economy and our future. This project will further Colorado’s goal of providing rural broadband access to 92% of rural households by June 2020,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Closing the rural broadband gap requires creativity, bipartisan collaboration, and investment. Colorado has stepped up to the challenge recently, committing to invest at least $115M over the next five years. Working together with federal and state policymakers we believe we can help problem-solve and provide solutions.”
This project will further Colorado’s goal of providing rural broadband access to 92% of rural households by June 2020.
“We thank the Colorado federal delegation, USDA Secretary, Sonny Perdue, Chad Rupe, Administrator for Rural Utilities Service and Sallie Clark, State Director, USDA Rural Development for this critical investment in Colorado’s rural broadband infrastructure,” Polis added.
The ReConnect Program was created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which directed the USDA to establish a new broadband loan and grant pilot program now called the ReConnect Program. The Act appropriated $600,000,000 for loans and grants for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas. On March 29, 2019, the USDA began accepting applications for up to $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations, and $200 million in low-interest loans. Three Colorado broadband providers filed ReConnect applications totaling more than $27 million, offering to provide FTTP to over 4,000 rural Coloradans. Emery Telecom’s award is the first ReConnect application, filed on behalf of Colorado communities, that has received an award notification, the other two Colorado applications are currently under review.
Federal programs like ReConnect, compliment Colorado’s broadband initiatives, enabling the state to leverage scarce resources desperately needed to keep rural communities economically viable. Emery Telecom will provide $912k in matching funds for a total project investment of $3.6M, providing fiber to the premise (FTTP) in communities that generally lack access to broadband.
The award was one of two USDA ReConnect commitments announced today during a USDA sponsored event in Lake Point, UT.
About the Colorado Broadband Office
The Colorado Broadband Office within the Governor’s Office of Information Technology was created to lead a statewide effort to expand broadband coverage and capacity for all Coloradans. Access to affordable and reliable broadband service is critical to advancing Colorado’s economic growth and competitiveness. High-speed broadband service helps create new jobs and attract new industries, expands markets for new and existing businesses, enables Coloradans to better access educational opportunities and resources, facilitates the delivery of health care services, and helps protect the public’s safety. Greater deployment of broadband services and infrastructure will improve long-term quality of life for many Coloradans and will ensure our state continues to compete on the global stage.