The Washington State Public Works Board approved over $44.6 million in conditional grants for 15 broadband construction projects in unserved and underserved communities across the state.
Included in this founding was $5 million for the Pacific County PUD to build broadband service between the Bay City and Nemah areas.
According to the board, applicants requested more than $90 million for 29 different projects, and the board approved qualified projects until all available program funds were exhausted.
They say that demand this cycle exceeded available funds by 209%.
Public Works Board Chair Kathryn Gardow said, “To thrive in today’s society, internet access is a necessity for children, families, elders, and businesses. Affordable high-speed internet spurs economic growth and development, educates our students, facilitates tele-medicine in rural communities, and more. The federal and state governments are making significant broadband infrastructure investments to move Washingtonians towards a more connected state and nation. The Public Works Board is honored and pleased to announce the recipients of our latest broadband construction funding cycle. With these 15 projects, we continue to close the digital divide and bring broadband to unserved communities across the state.”
“This funding is among the important ways we’re working towards digital equity in Washington state. Working in tandem with the state Broadband Office and the Washington State Office of Equity, we are one step closer to our goal of making broadband available and affordable for every community in Washington, and to make sure everyone has the tools and skills they need to securely and successfully use the internet,” said Washington Commerce Director Lisa Brown.
Projects awarded conditional funding at the Dec. 3 board meeting are:
This funding is part of the 2021 State Legislature’s infrastructure investment of the federal Coronavirus Capital Project Fund, and continues the Legislature’s commitment to connect communities with little or no reliable, affordable broadband service. Awards are conditional on the receipt of federal funds.
The board will open an application cycle for $13 million in state funded broadband construction loans in spring 2022.
Visit the Public Works Board webpage for more information on the board and its programs, and to sign up for their email distribution list.