State grants help expand internet access to more Grant County residents, businesses

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Friday, September 4, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Sept. 4, 2020) — Projects expanding fast and reliable internet to unserved homes and businesses in Grant County can now move forward thanks to more than $283,000 in state broadband grants, according to area lawmakers.

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. According to State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero), 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.

"Broadband is an essential resource for Hoosiers as it helps students doing assignments, employees working remotely and business owners growing their companies," Cook said. "This funding will be put to good use in this underserved area and we will continue to invest in our internet infrastructure."

State Rep. Mike Karickhoff (R-Kokomo) said a proposed project by Eastern Indiana WIFI will serve approximately 103 households and 28 businesses in Monroe and Jefferson townships. The requested grant amount is $251,756 with a local match of $66,922, for a total project cost of more than $318,000. Another project also by Eastern Indiana WIFI will serve 12 residences and one anchor institution in eastern Grant County. The requested grant amount is $31,983 with a local match of $8,502, for a total project cost of over $40,000.

"This investment in our community will connect Hoosiers to each other and help our businesses grow," Karickhoff said. "Reliable internet is becoming so important to our daily lives, whether for schooling, reaching a broader customer base or working from home."

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, according to State Rep. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion).

"Now more than ever, we need access to reliable internet," Vermilion said. "This in an investment in our future, and we appreciate local leaders and internet providers for their diligent work in securing these grants and working to ensure all areas of the state are served."  

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.

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State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) represents House District 32, which includes all of Tipton County and

portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.

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State Rep. Mike Karickhoff (R-Kokomo) represents House District 30,
which includes portions of Grant and Howard counties. 

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State Rep. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion) represents House District 31,

which includes all of Blackford County and portions of Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.

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