WELLSBURG, WV –
Gov. Jim Justice announced today that West Virginia has secured $125,000 in federal grant funding that will be used to improve broadband and high-speed internet connectivity in Brooke and Hancock counties.
The governor made the announcement at the Brooke County Commission offices in Wellsburg and presented commissioners with the grant.
“It’s been wonderful to get out into so many communities these past few weeks and give out a whole lot of grant money all over our great state,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m tickled to death to be here because I just want so much goodness for all of our people.”
These funds are just one piece of $13.1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars that have been dedicated for various broadband and infrastructure projects throughout West Virginia this year by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In Brooke and Hancock counties, the $125,000 grant will allow local officials to study and identify service gaps in their communities and determine what technologies may be needed to close those gaps.
County officials will then use their findings to develop a broadband feasibility plan, with a goal for improving high-speed internet service to over 25,000 homes and businesses in these communities.
“High-speed internet is one of the single most important things we need in West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve said for a long time, broadband is the key to not only keeping our young people at home, but we can also attract even more people and business to move into West Virginia to work and live. That’s why this study is so important and so exciting.”
This study will also be conducted in collaboration with a similar study that will be done in nearby Marshall County, which has also been awarded a CDBG grant for broadband improvement.
The overall goal of these combined efforts is to provide broadband solutions for all five northern panhandle counties.
“Now this grant here today isn’t just chicken feed, it’s good money,” Gov. Justice said. “But, at the same time, we want it to just be the start. We want to take what we learn in this study and truly make life better for northern West Virginians by increasing connectivity for everyone we can.”
A grand total of $2.4 million of the overall CDBG funds awarded in West Virginia will go toward similar broadband projects, benefitting thousands of people in 10 different counties across the state.
In total, 19 different communities throughout West Virginia have been awarded CDBG grants for this year.