FRANKFORT — Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman announced that Kentucky has been awarded a $1 million federal grant to help expand high-speed internet across the commonwealth.
“During the pandemic, we have seen the importance of reliable high-speed internet access for education, businesses, workforce and health care,” said Gov. Beshear. “Access to the internet is no longer a luxury. To build a better Kentucky, every home and business in our state should have access to affordable, adequate and reliable internet to participate fully in our economy, schools and society.”
“We are thrilled that we have been awarded this grant to plan the expansion of high-speed internet across the commonwealth. This grant will help us strengthen the digital infrastructure in Kentucky’s urban and rural communities,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman. “We have been focused on expanding high-speed internet access to every part of our state and this grant will help us reach that important goal.”
Under the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.
All 59 states and territories have been invited to apply for a $1 million grant through EDA’s Statewide Planning program – one of six programs EDA developed to equitably distribute its $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funding.
“The Biden Administration is giving states and territories the unprecedented opportunity to bring all their communities together to develop comprehensive plans to build back better and stronger,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The $1 million Statewide Planning grants will be used to lay the groundwork for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to build resilient economies and increase U.S. competitiveness.”
Today’s announcement is the latest step the Beshear-Coleman administration has taken to expand high-speed internet across Kentucky.
In August 2020, the administration dedicated $8 million in CARES Act funding to expand internet connectivity for elementary and secondary students and their families.
Through a bipartisan agreement signed into law by Gov. Beshear in 2021, Kentucky’s Broadband Deployment Fund will assist private sector entities and governmental agencies in the cost of constructing the “last mile” of high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved households and businesses across Kentucky.
The fund includes $300 million earmarked to address the connectivity needs of these communities, including $250 million for the construction of high-speed internet infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved areas – no more than $50 million of which may be awarded before April 1, 2022 – and $50 million for economic development opportunities.
Combined with at least 50% required matching federal investments, a minimum of $600 million will support high-speed internet expansion in Kentucky, creating more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Coupled with the broadband speed test, access mapping and the KentuckyWired project, the commonwealth has the potential to move to the forefront of broadband expansion nationwide.