State grants help expand internet access to more local residents, businesses

Posted by: Jake Thompson  | Wednesday, September 9, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Sept. 9, 2020) — One multi-county project expanding fast and reliable internet to unserved homes and businesses can now move forward thanks to a $110,040 state broadband grant, according to State Reps. David Abbott (R-Rome City) and Chris Judy (R-Fort Wayne).

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. Judy said 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.

"Access to the internet is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity of daily life," Judy said. "This grant program helps reduce the costs internet providers face with delivering broadband to these rural areas. Broadband is a lifeline for our communities, and this project will ensure those residents are connected to important services."

According to Judy, a proposed project by Mercury Wireless will connect 130 households and five businesses in portions of Allen, DeKalb and Whitley counties. The requested grant amount is $110,040, with a local match of $348,460, for a total project cost of $458,500.

Abbott said 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 digital divide between city and rural areas has widened over a short amount of time," Abbott said. "For businesses, it's essential they have an online presence to expand their customer base and connect with people they would not normally reach. For the residents in these areas, broadband links them to healthcare, education and so much more."

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.

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

-30- 

State Rep. David Abbott (R-Rome City) represents House District 82, which includes 
all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.
Click 
here for a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Chris Judy (R-Fort Wayne) represents House District 83,

which includes portions of Allen and Whitley counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.