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2022 Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development - Family Rescue Plan Broadband Grant

10:17PM January 18, 2022

Today, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development began accepting applications for a grant that will provide funds to expand broadband accessibility within the State of Tennessee.  In 2021, the federal government passed legislation known as the Family Rescue Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Each of the 50 states were designated funds from the Family Rescue Plan that could be allocated to infrastructure improvement projects, including the installation of new high speed broadband infrastructure.  The State of Tennessee elected to take $400 million of its Family Rescue Plan funds and allocate it for broadband expansion in Tennessee.  VEC has outlined 8 new projects across its service territory in the following counties: Bradley, Cumberland, Hamilton, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Roane.  These 8 projects combined, if awarded, will total over $87 million in new broadband infrastructure installation.  VEC is asking the local county governments in each location to provide a 10% project match.  This will improve the likelihood of each grant application being awarded.  The application deadline is in early March, and grant awards will be announced in early June.  Eligibility to receive an award is still based on the FCC broadband maps as it defines "lack of service".  The definition of "lacking broadband", however, has been modified to include any area with less than 100/20 Mbps service availability.  The previous broadband limit to receive an award was 25/3 Mbps.  This has also helped to improve the likelihood of receiving grants in some areas that were previously deemed ineligible.

VEC continues working hard to expand its broadband service area.  To date, we have finished the installation of projects in Hopewell, Birchwood, Spring Creek, and Ten Mile.  We have ongoing projects in South Meigs and Cotton Port that should finish up in the next 18-24 months.  If all goes according to plan, we will receive awards for most, if not all, of the applications that will be turned in for the American Rescue Funds.  Updates will be provided as we learn more.

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