CALIFORNIA, USA — 27 rural communities in California are getting a boost to their broadband infrastructure, courtesy of a 2.7 million grant.
The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced the American Rescue Plan grant funding through the Economic Adjustment Assistance program for the development of broadband strategic plans.
Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA) will serve as the grant administrator for these planning funds. The funds will help rural counties establish foundational readiness for broadband infrastructure deployment within their communities.
Experts have said high-speed internet availability in rural California is often a critical missing component of infrastructure. This means residents and businesses in unserved and underserved communities can’t participate in the 21st Century economy.
“On behalf of GSFA, I would like to thank the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration for this significant investment,” Bob Williams, GSFA Board Chair and Tehama County Supervisor, said.
“With this grant award all rural counties in California will now have established, proactive plans for broadband implementation for their underserved residents, representing an important milestone in the drive to achieve digital equity throughout the state,” Williams said.
By establishing broadband foundational readiness for these counties, the grant will also allow for the advancement of work under GSFA’s affiliate Golden State Connect Authority (GSCA) to expand broadband access for rural California.
GSCA is a joint powers authority comprised of 39 rural California counties designed for the purpose of increasing access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet for the residents and businesses of those counties.
GSCA assists rural counties in identifying pathways for development of internet infrastructure within their communities, including the construction of municipal-owned and/or operated internet systems, among other options.
“The establishment of high-speed internet access is vital to the overall health, safety, education and economic well-being of our rural communities,” Jack Garamendi, GSCA Board Chair and Calaveras County Supervisor, said.
Pending the establishment of the organization in December 2021, GSCA’s affiliate entity GSFA submitted the EDA grant application.
“This critical investment represents the first crucial step in broadband implementation for 27 of our member counties, helping them to establish foundational readiness for broadband deployment, and advance the overall reduction of the digital divide in rural California,” Garamendi said.
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