Halifax County has received a $710,514 grant in conjunction with Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and Empower Broadband to fund high-speed broadband expansion to several areas in the county.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced the grant Wednesday as part of more than $18.3 million in grants issued through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Virginia Telecommunication Initiative to support 12 projects across Virginia.
Two projects in the county will be supplemented by this grant funding including one in the southeastern portion of the county starting at Smiley’s Store and another in the northwestern portion of the county starting at Liberty Store.
“Broadband expansion is a priority of the county and the board of supervisors, and funding with assistance of all different agencies is key to the expansion of broadband,” said Halifax County Administrator Scott Simpson.
“Broadband expansion is a costly endeavor, and assistance by outside agencies is necessary and important,” he added.
The remaining funding for these projects will come from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative.
“No county funds are needed in these projects,” said Simpson.
He also said the county received less than what they originally applied for, therefore coverage area will have to be adjusted in the coming weeks.
The proposed project initially applied to 975 residents in areas of Crystal Hill, Meadville, northwest Halifax and Virgilina, he said, but the final number will have to be adjusted based on what was awarded.
The county administrator said the county would have to work with Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative in the coming weeks to refine the coverage area.
These total 12 projects across Virginia are expected to connect approximately 36,000 households, including thousands of businesses and community anchor institutions.
The VATI program provides targeted funding to extend service to areas that are presently unserved by any broadband provider.
The Governor made the announcement at the Charles City branch of the Heritage Public Library, where he presented local officials with a check for one of the awarded projects.
The VATI program is a state-funded program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
The goal of VATI is to create strong, competitive communities throughout the Commonwealth by preparing those communities to build, utilize and capitalize on telecommunications infrastructure.
Projects were selected through a competitive process evaluating each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost and leverage of the proposed project. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project areas.
DHCD allocated more than $18.3 million to eligible applicants to provide “last-mile” services to unserved areas of Virginia and received 39 applications from 34 localities requesting $43.6 million in funding.