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Gov. Justice announces $55.3 million in grant funding for major broadband projects across West Virginia

September 18th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

Gov. Jim Justice today announced the preliminary approval of more than $55.3 million in GigReady and Major Broadband Project Strategies Program (MBPS) funds to broadband infrastructure projects throughout the state. This announcement includes applications received under Gov. Justice’s West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan and the first announcement for preliminary approvals made under the GigReady Program.

The MBPS and GigReady programs are part of Gov. Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy – a plan to invest over $1 billion in state and federal funds to make broadband connectivity available for the first time to 200,000 West Virginia homes and businesses.

Projects announced through this application cycle will provide broadband connectivity to more than 17,500 targeted locations in West Virginia. The investment will result in more than 940 miles of new fiber infrastructure. This allocation of state funding will leverage $16,775,368 in additional funds for a total broadband infrastructure investment of $72,141,883.

"Our goal of getting more and more West Virginians high-speed internet access continues, and this latest announcement should get people in Greenbrier, Monroe, Raleigh, Randolph, Roane, and Summers counties very, very excited," Gov. Justice said. "We have to continue to expand access to reliable broadband. That’s the goal of my Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy."

"This round of improvements will help people who need high-speed internet to work remotely, allow students to do their homework, give our seniors access to the telehealth options they need, and businesses the ability to compete on the world stage. The possibilities go on and on, and West Virginians everywhere deserve the best access possible. I thank all the people who are turning this vision into a reality."

Applicants under GigReady may participate either in the technical assistance phase where the program helps communities scope projects and complete other necessary steps in the development process or by requesting implementation funding for more fully developed infrastructure projects. This GigReady program announcement includes five projects that are ready for implementation funding to install high-speed broadband infrastructure.

Funding for the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan, MBPS Program, is provided through Gov. Justice’s request, and the West Virginia Legislature’s approval, of $100 million to create the West Virginia Broadband Development Fund. The Fund includes $90 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $10 million in state general revenue funds. Funds are also derived through the ARPA Capital Projects Fund, which includes $136 million for broadband development in West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development, Office of Broadband, will administer program funds.

Under the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan, projects selected for award will receive a Preliminary Approval Announcement, which will be published on Internet Service Providers other than the applicant will receive an opportunity to submit data to the West Virginia Department of Economic Development demonstrating that the ISP currently offers broadband service at 25/3 Mbps or greater to addresses within the Proposed Project Funded Service Area. Data submitted must meet all the requirements described in the Process for Soliciting Information Regarding Unserved Areas, which the Department published on July 12, 2021.

This marks the fifth time this year that Gov. Justice has announced a round of major broadband projects through his Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy. Today’s round of GigReady and MBPS projects joins four previous rounds of MBPS and Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) projects.