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USDA ReConnect

Statewide Broadband Plan
Governor’s ReConnect Support Letter

PWB Broadband
Eligible Applicants

Public Entities:
• Cities and Towns
• Counties
• Public Port Districts
• Public Utility Districts
• Other Special Purpose Districts
• Quasi-Municipal Corporations
• Tribes
• Nonprofit Organizations
• Cooperative Associations

Private Entities:
• Limited liability corporations organized for the purpose of expanding broadband access
• Incorporated businesses or partnerships

To ensure that a grant or loan to a private entity primarily serves the public interest and benefits the public, there must be a guarantee that the asset or infrastructure to be developed will be maintained for public use for a period of at least fifteen years.

Funding Limits

• $2 million per project loan/grant award limit with a 50% match.
• Projects in financially distressed areas and Indian country may receive up to 90% of the total project cost for a total not to exceed $5 million.

PWB Broadband Fact Sheet

Governor Inslee signing 2SSB 5511 into law.
Governor Inslee signs 2SSB 5511 into law, establishing a new broadband program within PWB.

Washington Rural Broadband Workshop

Washington Rural Broadband Workshop events are coming in September. These free events are open to the public, but space is limited. Participants must pre-register for programs in Olympia or Davenport. For more information, contact Phili.Eggman@usda.gov.

Positions Open: The Public Works Board and the Governor’s Office Are Seeking Qualified Applicants

The Public Works Board is currently recruiting qualified applicants for a position in its broadband program. Click to view more information and to apply.

The Governor’s Office is seeking a dynamic and experienced manager to lead its Broadband Office. The Director is appointed by the Governor and is an exempt position. Click to view more information and to apply.

Public Works Board Broadband Program

On May 13, 2019, Governor Inslee signed the Second Substitute Senate Bill 5511 (2SSB 5511) into law. This bill relates to expanding affordable, resilient broadband service to enable economic development, public safety, health care, and education in Washington’s communities.

To increase broadband access to unserved areas of the state serves a governmental purpose and function. It provides a public benefit to the communities by enabling access to health care, education, and essential services. Additionally, broadband access provides economic opportunities and enhances public health and safety.  The broadband program becomes the Public Works Board’s seventh infrastructure system. 

The PWB is to establish a competitive grant and loan program for last-mile and middle-mile infrastructure. They are to develop procedures for the application and award process. Eligible applicants include public and private entities. Data specific to broadband infrastructure application, deployment, and attributes must be tracked. A contracted database will compile and maintain this information.

The PWB is to publish on our website the proposed geographic broadband service area and proposed speeds for each application submitted within thirty days of the close of the application process.

• The PWB is to facilitate objections to submitted applications within thirty days of publishing.
• The PWB may evaluate objections (from an existing broadband service provider), and must consider them in making determinations on applications submitted.

Rule-making will be another top priority to update our WAC and include the broadband program.

The Public Works Board’s broadband program will be developed in cooperation with the Governor’s Statewide Broadband Office.

Broadband Program Development Timeline

The graphic below shows the current anticipated timeline for program development. The PWB is dedicated to making this program a success. To follow through with this commitment, the development process will be thorough and involve coordination with the Governor’s Statewide Broadband Office, the Utilities and Transportation Commission, the Department of Commerce, the Community Economic Revitalization Board, and stakeholders.

Timeline of the broadband program development
Click to enlarge

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Statewide Broadband Account

The Statewide Broadband Account is funded through legislative appropriation, the proceeds of bond sales authorized by the legislature, repayment of loans, or any other lawful source.

In the 2019-21 biennium, the Statewide Broadband Account received a $21.5 million transfer from the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) for broadband capital projects, less operating costs to staff the program.

Contact Information

During the development of PWB’s broadband program, questions can be directed to:

Connie Rivera
Program Director and Tribal Liaison Connie.Rivera@commerce.wa.gov
Phone: 360-725-3088