CHARLESTON – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that West Virginia has secured a combined total of $225,000 in federal grant funding that will be used to improve broadband and high-speed internet connectivity in Mason, Pocahontas and Wayne counties.
“I’ve been so fortunate, the past few weeks, to have been able to give out millions of dollars in grants all across the state to people and communities who truly need it to improve their way of life forevermore,” Gov. Justice said. “And in today’s world, one of the most significant things we can do – and that we have to do – is get our people in our rural areas connected to broadband and high-speed internet.”
These funds are just part of the total $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.
The $225,000 that will be distributed within Mason, Pocahontas and Wayne counties is the combined total of a trio of grants, with each county receiving single awards in the amount of $75,000.
MASON COUNTY COMMISSION
Mason County’s $75,000 grant will be used to bring broadband internet service to the most underserved areas of the county.
County officials intend to build upon the presence of enhanced connectivity to facilitate better telemedicine options for residents, better online educational opportunities for students, and digital workforce training for displaced workers.
Overall, this project will improve connectivity to more than 26,000 households and businesses in Mason County.
POCAHONTAS COUNTY COMMISSION
Pocahontas County’s $75,000 grant will be used to complete a planning project aimed at identifying the best locations for last-mile solutions to residents and businesses that need broadband-level connectivity for education, health, safety and commerce applications.
Broadband will also serve as a valuable tool to draw in even more outdoor enthusiasts to the county, who wish to explore the region while staying connected.
Overall, this project will improve connectivity for more than 3,600 people in Pocahontas County.
WAYNE COUNTY COMMISSION
Wayne County’s $75,000 grant will be used to complete a planning project aimed at identifying the county’s underserved and unserved areas and to develop strategies to enhance internet connectivity throughout the entire county.
The plan will include an evaluation of broadband service to Wayne County’s anchor institutions such as schools, libraries and medical facilities, along with key industrial park sites. The plan also calls for the development of expansion strategies.
Overall, this project will improve connectivity for more than 17,000 residents in Wayne County.
“These grants are helping thousands upon thousands of West Virginians and it’s a complete game-changer for us as a state,” Gov. Justice said. “We are going to improve access to digital education and healthcare resources, we will enable our people to start the next big business right from their basement, and so much more. It will truly bring more people and companies into the state than ever before.
“The key is being connected, it’s really just that simple,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m committed to doing everything under the sun to make West Virginia a leader in giving our people access to technology. These grants are just a start, we want to do a lot more, and we will.”
A grand total of $2.4 million of the overall CDBG funds awarded in West Virginia will go toward similar broadband projects, benefiting 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. The remaining grant awardees will be announced in the near future.