Broadband expansion to connect 36K homes, businesses, groups
Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Wednesday more than $18.3 million in grants through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) to support 12 projects across Virginia.
These projects leverage over $35 million in local and private matching funds and will connect approximately 36,000 households, including thousands of businesses and community anchor institutions. The VATI program provides targeted funding to extend service to areas that are presently unserved by any broadband provider.
The governor made the announcement at the Charles City branch of the Heritage Public Library, where he presented local officials with a check for one of the awarded projects.
“Broadband is a necessity for communities to attract business, for students to use educational resources, and for Virginians to receive healthcare through telemedicine,” Northam said. “My administration is committed to expanding broadband access to every part of Virginia, so that all of our citizens have access to the opportunities that connectivity make possible.”
Northam’s proposed budget adds an additional $16 million a year on top of the $19 million allocated annually last year, bringing the total investment to $35 million each year to further expand broadband in the Commonwealth.
The VATI program is a state-funded program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The goal of VATI is to create strong, competitive communities throughout the Commonwealth by preparing those communities to build, utilize and capitalize on telecommunications infrastructure.
“VATI is a key resource we are utilizing to expand broadband access to all Virginians,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This funding will contribute significantly to the number of residents across the Commonwealth that are able to live and work more efficiently thanks to broadband connectivity.”
Projects were selected through a competitive process evaluating each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost and leverage of the proposed project. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project areas.
DHCD allocated more than $18.3 million to eligible applicants to provide “last-mile” services to unserved areas of Virginia and received 39 applications from 34 localities requesting $43.6 million in funding.