Lyness, Ziemke: State grants help expand internet access to more Franklin and Ripley County residents, businesses

Posted by: Randy Spieth  | Wednesday, September 9, 2020 4:00 pm

STATEHOUSE (Sept. 9, 2020) — Two Franklin and Ripley County projects expanding fast and reliable internet to unserved homes and businesses can now move forward thanks to more than $8.2 million in state broadband grants, according to State Reps. Randy Lyness (R-West Harrison) and Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville).

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs recently announced a total of $51 million awarded for 50 broadband expansion projects around the state. The funding is part of the second round of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program, which will provide broadband infrastructure to more than 10,590 homes and commercial locations across 32 counties.

"These two projects are both among the largest to receive funding during this round of grants," Lyness said. "With this funding, there will be new infrastructure in place to connect more of our community to high-speed internet."

"This year has helped reinforce many of our beliefs that internet is a necessity to work and learn," Ziemke said. "Many in our community should soon have fast, reliable internet access for the first time. With this service in more neighborhoods and businesses, our area could become even more attractive to people and employers looking to locate here."

In addition to the $51 million awarded, 16 telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributed more than $53 million in matching funds, resulting in more than $104 million total investment for broadband.

The Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program provides funding of up to $5 million per project to expand broadband service to unserved areas. In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must be able to contribute at least a 20% match.

According to Lyness and Ziemke, these are the projects impacting Franklin and Ripley County, with some projects reaching into nearby Dearborn, Jefferson and Jennings counties:

SEI Communications: In partnership with Southeastern Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corporation, this project will serve 447 households, 58 businesses, and 55 anchor institutions in Ripley, Franklin and Dearborn Counties. The requested grant amount is more than $3.21 million, with a local match of more than $4.83 million, for a total project cost of more than $8.04 million.

SEI Communications: In partnership with Southeastern Indiana REMC, this project will provide service to 2,263 households, 199 business and 24 anchor institutions in Ripley, Jennings, and a small portion of Jefferson Counties. The requested grant amount is $5 million, with a local match of more than $8.4 million, for a total project cost of more than $13.4 million.

For more information, visit in.gov/ocra/3018.htm.

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State Rep. Randy Lyness (R-West Harrison) represents House District 68, which includes
all of Union County and portions of Franklin and Dearborn counties.
Click 
here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents House District 55, which includes 
all of Fayette County and portions of Decatur, Franklin, Ripley and Rush counties.
Click 
here to download a high-resolution photo.