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Board votes to fund broadband project

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to use $2,153,500 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding as a match for a Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant match for the provision of broadband service to Prince Edward County at the Sept. 14 meeting.

“If there ever was a time to fix the technology gap of our citizens and their inability to access the internet, now is the time,” County Administrator Doug Stanley said. “And right now the one person who’s been there working with this is Jim Garrett at Kinex Telecom.”

The project’s aim is to have fiber in front of all Prince Edward County homes, as well as those in Lunenburg and Cumberland that are part of the project area, within four years.

The minimum match requirement for the grant is 20%; at least 10% is required from a private source. The total project budget is $25,292,385, with $9,975,490 in FCC grants, which have already been awarded to Kinex; a $6 million Small Business Administration (SBA) 15-year loan, which has already been approved; and $6,316,895 in project funding from Kinex.

“We’ve applied today for $15 million for a regional project that includes the Prince Edward portion of the Lunenberg in Cumberland,” Stanley said.

Jim Garrett of Kinex addressed the board over the phone. He noted that Kinex had previously won a contract to provide rural broadband via a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction to provide broadband to rural areas without at minimum 25 Mbps download speed.

Stanley said that the ARPA funding came at a fortunate time where the broadband project was concerned.

“We didn’t know this opportunity was landing in our lap, and so it presents a unique opportunity. ” Stanley said.