Broadband projects in Washington State get boost from $300,000 in grants

Programs in six counties and 10 tribal communities will increase broadband access and use in the next year.

Broadband advocates in six counties and 10 tribal communities will spend the next year improving access and increasing broadband use in their part of the state.  The five Local Technology Planning Teams will begin work this month thanks to $300,000 in grant money awarded by the Washington State Broadband Office of the Department of Commerce.

Successful proposals showed community or region wide collaboration on programs that included everything from training in e-commerce and web site development for small businesses to a region-wide project for underserved tribal lands. All work proposed in the applications must be completed by June 30, 2014.

Gov. Jay Inslee congratulated the grant awardees and commended their work on broadband.

“These grants are part of the state’s commitment to economic development in rural and underserved communities in Washington State,” Inslee said. “Local technology planning teams will identify their own broadband needs and strategies for increasing access and adoption where they live. The results will go a long way to assisting job creation efforts already under way.”

Successful applicants were:

  • Washington State University was awarded $56,000 to leverage broadband needs assessment activities already begun in Jefferson and Clallam counties.
  • Lincoln County was awarded $26,880 to address educational challenges and economic development opportunities in Lincoln County by increasing broadband access and use.
  • Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Tribal Technology Team was awarded $94,000 to provide broadband and communications planning to Washington State Tribes including needs assessment, infrastructure/services inventory and gap analysis.
  • Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce was awarded $64,000 to partner with the Intelligent Community Forum, a think tank that focuses on broadband centric economic and social development strategies and leverage their expertise through its Community Accelerator Program.
  • Klickitat-Skamania Local Technology Planning Team was awarded $60,000 to provide community identified broadband training and address gaps in infrastructure through partnerships with our region’s governments, providers, communities and businesses and increasing access to broadband via public hotspots.

Grant recipients were chosen from a field of 13 applicants representing more than a dozen cities, 14 counties and 13 tribes with requests totaling more than $770,000. This is the second and final round of funding for the program.

Last year’s grant awardees used the funds for a number of community based activities such as:

  • A tech expo complete with a hands-on Gadget Garage,
  • Survey of the community to identify broadband gaps and needs
  • Initial development of an online program to help daycare providers in the Yakima Valley continue their education.

The funding for these grants comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency. This grant program, designed to support local technology planning teams, aligns with the broadband strategy identified in the final report of a broadband committee convened at the request of the Governor and the Legislature in 2008.


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