Public Works Board - Broadband Funding

PWB Broadband Program

The Public Works Board (Board) Broadband program is authorized by state statute (RCW 43.155.160). Its purpose is to loan and grant funding to promote the expansion of broadband access to unserved populations in rural and urban communities across the state.

Emergency Broadband Loan Program

The Emergency Broadband Loan Program focuses on activities that repair, replace, rehabilitate, improve and/or reconstruct critical broadband infrastructure that have been made necessary by a natural disaster or damaged by unforeseen events. Applications are accepted continuously until loan funds are expended.

Current Funding Information

Objections to projects will be accepted following the posting of applications and until 11:59 PM February 9, 2024.

Eligible Applicants for State Funding

  • Cities and Towns
  • Counties
  • Public Port Districts
  • Public Utility Districts
  • Other Special Purpose Districts
  • Quasi-Municipal Corporation
  • Tribes
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Cooperative Associations
  • 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 for State Funding

  • $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.

Interactive Hardship Map

The Public Works Board Broadband Hardship Map shows the hardship status of counties. Distressed counties are counties that have rural or Tribal status. Severely distressed status is determined for rural counties with: (a) an unemployment rate 20% above the state average for the previous three years and (b) a median household income less than 75% of the state median for the previous three years.

Open interactive map in new window.

Information and Resources

In order to protect the rich cultural heritage of Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee signed Executive Order 21-02 (GEO 21-02). Recipients of state capital funds must consult with the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP) and any Federally recognized Indian tribes that may have cultural and/or historic interest or concerns in the project’s vicinity. However, if the project is subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act  through federal involvement (such as the use of Federal funding or the need to acquire Federal permits), then the Governor’s Executive Order (GEO) 21-02 process is unnecessary.

Recipients will not move forward with any pre-construction or construction activities that will disturb soils(such as, drilling test wells, completing geo-tech work, grading, clearing, etc.), or construction activities until GEO 21-02 is completed (and/or both the SERP and 106 processes, if applicable) and the PWB has issued a final compliance letter. If ground-disturbing activities occur prior to the Recipient receiving the final compliance letter, the PWB loan funding will be jeopardized.

A government-to-government relationship must be properly adhered to for the cultural review. As such, it is the PWB’s responsibility to contact the Tribes and the DAHP. The PWB will notify the Recipient when a cultural resources survey is necessary. It is the Recipient’s responsibility to hire a qualified archaeologist to conduct the survey and submit a draft of the survey to the PWB for final approval.

Sheila Richardson is the Public Works Board’s primary contact regarding the GEO 21-02 process. Award recipients start the process by submitting an EZ1 form to the PWB Programs Director & Tribal Liaison. The PWB Programs Director & Tribal Liaison will conduct the consultation with the DAHP and the Tribes. You can email materials to or mail to:

Sheila Richardson
Department of Commerce
Public Works Board
PO Box 42525
Olympia, WA 98504-2525

The GEO 21-02 process requires award recipients to define the construction project area for potential impact, and identify any building or structures 45-years or older that are located within the project site. For projects that plan to alter structure 45-years of age or older, an online inventory survey must be completed by the Recipient. The DAHP can issue a broad range of responses to the submittal. A common response is a “No Effect Upon Cultural/Historic Properties” letter. If you receive such a letter, you have completed the DAHP portion of the review.

If the DAHP requires more information (completion of additional forms, cultural survey, inadvertent discovery plan, etc.) you must comply with the request. It is possible that you will need to hire a professional archaeologist to address this. Only when the DAHP concurs with the additional materials provided is the DAHP portion of GEO 21-02 complete. For projects that plan to alter structures 45 years of age or older, an online inventory survey must be completed.

Tribal consultation is initiated by the PWB Program Director & Tribal Liaison sending a letter to the potential affected Federally recognized Indian tribes(s). The letter details any project information describing the location and extent of the project, along with a map of the impacted area. The Tribe(s) will be allowed at least 30-days to respond. There may be no response, or there may be a wide range of responses to the information provided. As with the DAHP, if additional materials are required, they must be provided to the Tribe(s) and they must concur with the findings.