What they’re saying: Gov. Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy for West Virginia

10/15/2021

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New broadband availability expected for 200,000 homes and businesses across the state
CHARLESTON, WV – Leaders in West Virginia and members of the state’s congressional delegation in Washington D.C. have joined together in applauding Gov. Jim Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy, which was launched today during a ceremony at the State Capitol.

The Governor’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy is expected to bring broadband availability to 200,000 more West Virginia homes and businesses. The plan will combine funding from federal, state, and local governments, along with matching investments from private-sector partners, to accelerate the expansion of high-speed internet to underserved areas of the state. The plan represents by far the largest investment in broadband in the state’s history.

Here’s what they’re saying about Gov. Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy:

United States Senator Shelley Moore Capito
“I congratulate Governor Justice on this announcement, which will help us continue our work together to better connect West Virginia. From online business startups to digital learning and telemedicine, broadband access is critical to the strength of our economy and our communities. That’s why improving connectivity in West Virginia has been a top priority since day one. It’s also why I created my Capito Connect plan, which has been very successful since launching in 2015. I’m thrilled Governor Justice and other leaders at the state level are also prioritizing broadband. This billion-dollar broadband strategy goes hand-in-hand with my Capito Connect plan by utilizing funding that I – along with others – have worked hard to secure to address our broadband challenges. Working together at the federal, state, and local levels is what it will take to bridge the digital divide, and I will continue working with the Governor and others, while also utilizing my roles on the Commerce and Appropriations Committees, to make sure we are delivering all of the tools needed to better connect West Virginia.”

United States Congressman Alex Mooney
“I applaud Governor Jim Justice’s announcement of a billion-dollar strategy to bring broadband availability to over 200,000 West Virginia homes and businesses. The expansion of broadband internet connectivity is essential to the future growth and competitiveness of the Mountain State in the modern economy. Today’s announcement is a monumental step in expanding the reach of high-speed internet to students, small businesses, and all West Virginians.”

United States Senator Joe Manchin:
“What you’re putting together today, Governor, is exactly what it takes. The highest priority we have is connectivity. It’s the same as my grandparents, your grandparents and great grandparents went through the 1930s when there was no electricity. It was a game changer in quality of life for everybody in West Virginia and America when electricity was basically distributed to everybody. And internet is that same type of infrastructure that’s needed for us to be able to compete and improve the quality of life in West Virginia as we can do.”

[...]

“With the COVID packages that we put together in a bipartisan way last year, the American Rescue Plan was done this year, the basically bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s sitting over in the House, waiting for a vote, everything that has happened and everything that I believe will happen when we pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill would give the state of West Virginia $840 million directly for broadband, and you’re putting it to good use by matching it with state funds. And I appreciate that, Governor, I appreciate all of us in this together. This is not politics, it’s not Democrat or Republican, this is good policy and our people need it, and I’m so thankful to work with you and make sure the Legislature, all of us, have all the information you need and all the tools to be successful for the people of West Virginia.”

United States Congressman David McKinley:
“Governor, congratulations on your focus in the Legislature in accomplishing this. It’s been an honor to work with my fellow colleagues in Washington to try to make this a combined effort. One thing we’ve learned through this pandemic was it’s unconscionable – absolutely unconscionable – that in this day and age, 2021, that during this pandemic our children, often throughout West Virginia, wherever that was, Hardy, Hampshire County, or wherever, Randolph County in West Virginia, they would have to go to a fire station to get a WiFi connection. They’d have to go to a school parking lot. This is unconscionable that we allow this thing to happen. So I congratulate you on your aggressive behavior and putting this investment program together...This thing you’ve hit is a home run, in focusing on broadband. I thank you for that and I thank the Legislature for backing you up.”

United States Congresswoman Carol Miller:
“Thank you, Governor Justice, for organizing this incredible, wonderful event today. This is a great day for West Virginia. This historic broadband investment will bring more connectivity, commerce, and opportunity to our state. Thank you Mitch [Carmichael], Roger [Hanshaw], and Craig [Blair], and all of you all in the Legislature for your hard work and working together. It shows what we can do as West Virginians, and I’m just happy to be able to work on the federal level to help secure millions of dollars for this project as well. This type of leadership from Governor Justice is exactly what we need to propel our state forward. His vision and what we’re accomplishing, I can’t say thank you enough. I’m just so thrilled to be with all of you today to celebrate this news.”

West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair:
“We’re committed to fiber and broadband throughout the state of West Virginia. COVID has demonstrated this more to us than anything else that it needs to be done. But we’re in a position, we’ve got a state that is actually growing. We have prosperity in this state. And, if we want to attract populations to the state and jobs to the state, broadband is essential to do that, and we get that. As the Governor has said, we’re in a financial position to be able to rebuild the state into the 21st Century. I can’t thank my colleagues enough, from both sides of the aisle, and the Governor’s Office.”

West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw:
“We have sat at this table in this room and acknowledged before that the broadband backbone is to the 21st Century economy what the interstate highways were to the 20th Century economy. It’s the way we move goods and services throughout America and throughout the world now. And if West Virginia is going to be a serious player in a 21st Century economy. We have to make serious investments in the kind of infrastructure necessary to bring that into reality. So this is yet another step towards bringing West Virginia into a 21st Century economic position. We want it known to all of the business interests out there around the world today that are looking to deploy capital, and make investment, and make expansions, and recruit workers that West Virginia is, in fact, a player in the 21st Century economy. Governor, we thank you for that vision.”

Mitch Carmichael, Secretary, West Virginia Department of Economic Development:
“Governor, it is a landmark day and I want to thank you personally and thank the legislators who have had such a big part in structuring this program that makes available over a billion dollars for investment in new broadband opportunities throughout West Virginia, and the focus of the program – it’s clear from the U.S. Treasury and clear from the Governor and the Legislature – is to go serve those who do not have service. It’s really inspiring work to do that. We’ve structured the programs in order to put broadband high speeds, gigabit fiber, fiber optic cable to homes in West Virginia that will enable distance learning, remote work, telehealth, and all the things that are so incumbent on a 21st Century economy and these are the tools that we have in place now to move forward to deploy those assets.”

[...]

“Right now, West Virginia is experiencing some of the most incredible economic growth in our history. We are top 10 in America in terms of GDP growth in the second quarter. That’s an amazing statistic. We had the highest growth in the southeast or the midwest. Our unemployment of 4.8% is nearly 10% less than the national average. You’ve generated budget surpluses of over $400 million last year, and that’s a transition from when you took office with a $500 million deficit. Already this year, you’re running some $140 million in surplus. The Rainy Day fund is over a billion dollars. Pension funds are all basically fully funded. And all this success with the worst broadband in America. Can you imagine, now, with the billion-dollar investment and the 200,000 homes – minimum – that will be deployed with these assets that you;ve made available; the sky is the limit for our growth and our opportunities and our prosperity. I know that, lots of times, Tom Brady gets the accolades for being the Greatest Of All Time – the ‘G.O.A.T.’ – but I think that this administration should get the award for being the greatest. You’re the G.O.A.T., Governor.”

Gaylene Miller, Director, West Virginia AARP:
“Thank you, Governor Justice, and members of the Legislature. Like you, AARP has long supported the widespread deployment and adoption of high speed internet across the Mountain State, with a particular emphasis on those areas that are currently unserved and are more rural areas of West Virginia. As others have said, we know that affordable, reliable, high-speed internet is no longer a luxury. It’s an essential infrastructure. So I appreciate the work that all of us have done together to pull the rope, as you like to say, Governor, to make sure that we have access to broadband that enhances the quality of life for all West Virginians as we age. As others have mentioned as well, this proposal makes a significant investment in our state and our people. So I will tell you that AARP welcomes the opportunity to work with you, your administration, along with legislative leaders on this bold initiative to move West Virginia forward.”

Virgil Underwood, CEO, Boone Memorial Hospital:
“It’s an exciting day for us in West Virginia. Thank you, Governor Justice. Thank you to our congressional delegation and to our state Legislature. Improving the health outcomes of this community; that goal is at the forefront of what Boone Memorial Hospital is trying to accomplish. And when we look at the social determinants of health, those cannot be addressed without affordable high-speed broadband internet.”

[...]

“All roads, from where I sit, lead to health. Boone County has about, I think it’s less than half of our citizens that are broadband users. Additionally, our download speeds in Boone County are about one-third of what they are in other counties, even where we have it. And so, the importance cannot be overstated. It is not simply a life-changing event, or even a generational-changing event, as Senator Manchin said. I think it's an event that will impact eternity for West Virginia.”
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Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

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Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

Governor's Mansion:
304.558.3588

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