Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board invests $2.9 million toward rural broadband infrastructure

  • September 25, 2018

Jefferson, Klickitat, Mason, Skagit, Snohomish and Whitman counties hope to spur economic development through expanded access to high-speed, open-access broadband service.

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) approved $2,816,649 in low-interest loans and grants for public infrastructure to provide high-speed, open-access broadband service, and $150,000 in grants for economic feasibility studies targeting business growth and job creation.

Projects for Jefferson County PUD #1, the city of Goldendale, Mason County PUD #3, the Port of Skagit County, the town of Darrington, and the Port of Whitman County will benefit from the funds awarded through Washington’s new rural broadband program.

The CERB funding is matched by over $4.5 million in local resources.

  • Jefferson County – $50,000 grant to Jefferson County PUD #1 for the Jefferson County Broadband Infrastructure Expansion Plan. This planning program project consists of a feasibility study to explore the extension of middle- and last-mile connections to residents and businesses across the county. CERB funds were matched by $17,000 in local resources.
  • Klickitat County – $50,000 grant to the City of Goldendale for the Goldendale Broadband Plan. This planning program project consists of a feasibility study to create an accelerated broadband deployment plan that includes gap analysis, comprehensive plan revisions and related zoning updates, and GIS tools. CERB funds were matched by $17,000 in local resources.
  • Mason County – $408,325 loan and $408,324 grant to Mason County PUD #3 for the Mason County Rural Broadband Fiber Expansion. This rural broadband program project consists of construction and extension of open-access ready-to-connect fiber networks to six unserved rural communities in Mason County. CERB funds were matched by $150,000 local resources.
  • Skagit County – $500,000 loan and $500,000 grant to the Port of Skagit County for the Skagit Community Fiber Optic Backbone. This rural broadband program project consists of construction of segment 6 of the county-wide fiber optic backbone, connecting the Town of Concrete to the backbone point in the Town of Hamilton. CERB funds were matched by $2.3 million in local resources.
  • Snohomish County – $50,000 grant to the Town of Darrington for the Wood Innovation Center Cultural Resources Survey. This planning program project consists of a cultural resource survey to support the Wood Innovation Center’s plan, which includes preliminary design, engineering, and permitting. CERB funds were matched by $85,000 in local resources.
  • Whitman County – $750,000 loan and $250,000 grant to the Port of Whitman County for the Last-Mile Fiber Construction project. This rural broadband program project consists of construction of aerial fiber on existing poles to five rural communities in Whitman County. CERB funds were matched by $2 million in local resources.

“Rural broadband infrastructure investments are a fundamental piece of community growth,” said CERB Chair Randy Hayden. “The New Rural Broadband Program funding is vital in strengthening the economy of these counties by opening up new opportunities for citizens, businesses, education, health care, and the local governments.”

“Virtually every job and economic opportunity today require access to broadband services,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “Where someone lives should not be a determining factor in pursuing educational goals, entrepreneurial dreams or quality health care. These funds announced today will help meet the needs and strength rural and tribal communities throughout our state.”

The release of CERB funds to these projects is contingent upon each applicant completing specific pre-contract requirements, such as finalizing other funding sources and obtaining necessary permits.

Since 1982, CERB has committed nearly $163 million to local jurisdictions across the state, an investment generating more than 35,000 jobs, and private capital investment of a $5.6 billion ($34 to $1) return on CERB investment.

As Washington’s strategic economic development resource, CERB is focused on creating private-sector jobs in partnership with local governments by financing infrastructure improvements. These improvements encourage new business development and expansion. In addition to funding construction projects, CERB provides limited funding for studies that evaluate high-priority economic development projects.

Learn more about CERB at www.commerce.wa.gov/cerb.

Local Contacts:

Jefferson County PUD #1: Will O’Donnell, communications manager, (360) 385-8369, wodonnell@jeffpud.org

City of Goldendale: Larry Bellamy, city administrator, (509) 773-3771, lbellamy@ci.goldendale.wa.us

Mason County PUD #3: Justin Holzgrove, telecommunications & community relations manager, (360) 432-5323, justinh@masonpud3.org

Port of Skagit County: Sara Young, director of planning and facilities, airport manager, (360) 757-0011, sara@portofskagit.com

Town of Darrington: Dianne Allen, clerk-treasurer, (360) 436-1131, dianne.allen@darringtonwa.us

Port of Whitman County: Kara Riebold, chief operating officer, (509) 397-3791, kara@portwhitman.com

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