Government grant will help provide broadband access to Coosa County residents
A newly awarded $200,000 grant funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission will assist the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) in providing high-speed internet services to a section of Coosa County.
Governor Kay Ivey announced the grant award on Friday, explaining that it will enable the electric cooperative to provide broadband access to nearly 70 households and at least one business in the Richville community.
“Today, high-speed internet is a critical element to ensuring a high quality of life,” Ivey said in a statement. “When we work to grow our economy, improve our education system and provide better health care, we must make expanding broadband access part of the equation. I am grateful to the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative for recognizing the impact broadband will have on the Coosa County residents.”
This project is the first phase in CAEC’s larger plan to provide a 365-mile-wide fiber optic ring, connecting its 24 electric substations and six offices along with nearby residences and businesses. The electric cooperative’s service area includes rural parts of Autauga, Chilton, Coosa and Elmore counties, as well as some sections of six adjoining counties.
“This investment will be a tremendous help as we deploy fiber optic cable throughout Coosa County,” CAEC president and CEO Tom Stackhouse commented.
“We are grateful to ARC, Governor Ivey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for their involvement in allowing grant dollars to be awarded,” he added. “This project will be a game-changer for people who live in rural Alabama.”
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) administers the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) program in Alabama.
ARC is an economic development agency comprised of the federal government and 13 state governments. The agency’s mission is to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. Thirty-seven Alabama counties, including Coosa County, are part of the ARC region and eligible for funds.
“Governor Ivey is committed to ensuring that Alabama’s rural communities are not left behind as technology advances,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA is proud to join with Governor Ivey, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative and ARC in this endeavor.”
State officials have made increasing high-speed, affordable broadband access to all Alabamians a major focus in recent years.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn