On Monday, April 10, the Adams Economic Alliance welcomed one of the biggest, most distinguished gathering of guests in our office’s history within the Adams Commerce Park.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined local, state, and Biden Administration officials to announce $200 million from the Capitol Projects Fund, established under the American Rescue Plan, to expand high-speed internet access for more than 44,000 homes and business throughout Pennsylvania, particularly in rural communities. Pennsylvania is expected to receive at least $1 billion more to expand affordable high-speed internet across the Commonwealth from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Robin Fitzpatrick, Alliance president, welcomed attendees with the following remarks:
Economic Development is the intersection of all industries. And what is broadband if not connectivity and intersections?
What a striking contrast that this announcement about broadband is being made in one of the nation’s most historic locations. Our Adams County community has long studied broadband connectivity, and I know our community is certainly not alone.
This announcement means real change in real people’s lives. A student in northern Adams County will no longer have to sit in a cold car in the dark to access a hotspot. A small business owner, critical to the backbone of Pennsylvania’s economy, will have unlimited potential on the world wide web.
Connectivity should not just be for the privileged. This initiative will help level the playing field by providing access to vital info to all. I could go on. There are ripple effects everywhere, across industries, the medical field, home-based businesses and critical implications therein.
We could not be more honored to host today’s announcement, which is going to make a real difference, a real impact, in real people’s lives.
We are grateful to Adams County Commissioner Marty Qually for helping to organize this fantastic news for Adams County as well as the Commonwealth.
“Too often, families, particularly those in our rural communities, are left at a disadvantage when it comes to high-speed internet access. This $200 million award from the American Rescue Plan will help level the playing field,” said Senator Casey. “I will continue working to expand high-speed internet in Pennsylvania to ensure families stay connected and small businesses stay competitive in an increasingly digital world.”
The morning, in photos:
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, which has approved guidelines for the $200 Million Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, will begin accepting applications in May.
Brandon Carson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority announced the funding will be available to businesses, non-profits, local government, and economic development organizations. The guidelines are posted on the Authority’s website, and the application process will open on May 10, 2023.
It’s estimated that the funding will connect 44,000 Pennsylvania locations, helping to ease the divide between those who have internet access and those who do not.
The Pennsylvania Broadband Infrastructure Program, funded through the Capital Projects Fund, will fund line extension and development projects, as well as large-scale regional infrastructure projects. Upon completion, projects must deliver service that meets or exceeds symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 Megabits per second, with prioritization being given to fiber-optic deployment. Projects must include a viable sustainability strategy to maintain, repair, and upgrade networks to ensure their continued operation.
“The Authority is pleased to provide this funding to achieve last-mile connections and increase speed for underserved and unserved regions in Pennsylvania,” said Executive Director Carson. “This is the first grant program the Authority is offering, and we look forward to seeing the impact it makes as we work to close the Commonwealth’s digital divide.”
Key Program requirements include:
- 25-percent match: Federal, state, or local funding received by the applicant is eligible towards the match requirement.
- Grant amounts: The minimum request considered will be $500,000 and the maximum may not exceed $10 million.
- Universal coverage: Applicants are required to ensure that all projects either achieve or are part of a plan to achieve universal broadband for the locality or region.
- Affordability: Applicants must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Programand will be asked to describe and document their digital equity efforts to ensure low- to moderate-income households in the proposed project area will have sustained and affordable access.
- Labor: The Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act may apply to projects funded under this program. Prevailing Wage requirements are generally applicable to grants for construction, demolition, reconstruction, alteration, repair work, renovations, build-out and installation of machinery and equipment more than $25,000.
The application period will begin May 10, 2023, and will close July 10, 2023, at 11:59 PM. The Authority expects to award grants prior to the end of 2023. Funded projects must reach substantial completion ― defined as services being delivered to end users ― by December 31, 2026. The program will be administered in accordance with U.S. Treasury guidelines and Act 96 of 2021.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, visit the Authority’s website.