More than 12,500 West Virginia households in Logan and Mingo counties will soon have access to broadband, thanks to a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of the US Department of Commerce.
Generation West Virginia, a statewide nonprofit organization, oversaw technical assistance, grant-writing, and process navigation support for this proposal. This was made possible through the Locally Driven Broadband Solutions initiative, a program designed in partnership with the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and with additional support from the Just Transition Fund, to help local leadership teams take advantage of increasing federal grant resources to expand and improve access to broadband in their communities.
This grant will provide more than $19 million to Logan and Mingo counties, which will work with GigaBeam Networks to build out high-speed internet to nearly 13,000 unserved households throughout the two counties.
“Increasing broadband access is key to attracting, retaining, and advancing young people here in West Virginia ,” said Alex Weld, executive director of Generation West Virginia. “As the next generation seeks out more remote work opportunities, broadband access is crucial to ensuring those who choose West Virginia can stay and thrive here.”
“Local problems demand local solutions. This project is a great example of positive partnerships between municipal government, regional planning and development councils, and internet service providers,” said Jen Giovannitti, the president and a trustee of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
“Rural communities are searching for solutions that allow us to be part of the new digital economy and create economic development possibilities. The collaboration of all parties involved will allow Logan and Mingo counties the opportunities to succeed and continue to be a productive part of West Virginia,” said Rocky Adkins, Logan County Development Director,
“The success of this project is an example of what can be accomplished when non-profit agencies, local governments, and private industry come together for the benefit of a region. Reliable high-speed broadband service to homes and businesses is a critical component to the economic diversification and future success of our state,” said Chris Chiles, Executive Director of the Region 2 Planning & Development Council.
This project was made possible through the collaboration of local leadership in Logan and Mingo counties, the Region 2 Planning and Development Council, the West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s Broadband Office and West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council, and U.S. Sens. Capito and Manchin. Generation West Virginia Broadband Coordinator Natalie Roper led coordination efforts.
This grant will be in addition to the work of AEP, which is investing $61.3 million in constructing over 400 miles of middle-mile fiber to modernize its grid for electrical service in this region. As the last mile provider, GigaBeam Networks will utilize a portion of the stands in the fiber optic cable that AEP is installing for grid modernization to construct a high-speed broadband network, explained Michael Clemons, GigaBeam Networks CEO.
This award is one of 13 announced by NTIA. In total, 12 states and one territory were awarded more than $277 million to connect more than 133,000 unserved households.