Press Release – The office of Governor Brian Kemp issued an announcement today during an announcement over broadband access in Georgia.
Governor kemp announced that almost $408 million will be awarded across 70 Georgia counties to provide them with faster and more reliable broadband access.
He issued the following press release on the topic:
Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by members of the Broadband Infrastructure Committee and state leaders, today announced almost $408 million in preliminary awards which will provide communities, households, and businesses in 70 Georgia counties access to faster and more reliable broadband.
These 49 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant projects represent an investment of more than $738 million in Georgia when matching funds are contributed.
“I am very proud that Georgia is once-again leading the nation in developing collaborative, innovative, and fiscally conservative ways to leverage government funding to positively impact and serve as many Georgians as possible,” said Governor Brian P. Kemp. “I want to thank all of the members on the Broadband Infrastructure Committee as well as the grants team at the Office of Planning and Budget, and the broadband and special projects team at the Georgia Technology Authority for working together to score applications and recommend projects that reflect the greatest needs and interests of hardworking Georgians. We look forward to the positive impact these projects will have once completed. I ran on a promise to bring opportunity to rural Georgians. If you look at the map of Georgians who will now have access to rural broadband, you will see a promise kept.”
On June 29, 2021, Governor Kemp announced members of the Georgia Jobs and Infrastructure Committees. The bipartisan committees were responsible for receiving applications and making recommendations to the Governor regarding federal coronavirus relief funds allocated to Georgia through the American Rescue Plan. State government entities, units of local government, industries, and nonprofits were eligible to apply. Specifically, the Broadband Infrastructure Committee was responsible for making necessary investment recommendations to provide unserved or underserved locations with faster, more reliable broadband access.
Today’s announcement represents the initial phase of the rollout. The state is now in a due diligence posture, collecting tangible information and working with grantees to maximize our ability to serve the most Georgians in the highest-need areas. As the due diligence phase wraps up based on final ARPA guidance from the United States Treasury and project awards are finalized, there is potential opportunity to repurpose or leverage other federal funds to address areas that may not have been addressed with these awards.
“The volume of applications from all corners of the state proved what we thought we know: citizens need better broadband options for work, school, and play,” said Senator Blake Tillery. “The communities and providers who did the detail work of separating out RDOF areas, avoiding overbuild in already served communities, and calculating local and applicant matches to stretch state dollars to more citizens earned these grants. These awards are a giant step toward resolving the technological divide between our urban and rural communities.”
Due to the hard work and forward thinking of the legislature, the Department of Community Affairs, and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the Georgia Broadband Availability Map is a wonderful resource that helped the state identify the necessity of these projects. Leveraging this map, focus was placed on selecting projects that will help maintain a level playing field for private sector competition, also taking into respect parallel funding streams available for broadband access or expansion – like the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Geography was also considered in order to disperse funds in an equitable manner.
“I am excited to see the impact these grants will have in connecting more Georgians to high-speed broadband and to watch the improvement in educational and business access they will create,” said Representative Terry England.
Based on data from the Georgia Broadband Availability Map, 482,374 locations in Georgia are currently unserved as of July 2021. The projects targeted with these awards could serve 183,615 locations – representing both homes and businesses – with faster and more reliable broadband. 132,050 of these locations are currently unserved based on state data.
In addition to this historic investment in broadband expansion in Georgia, the FCC’s RDOF program has awarded $326 million in funding that will also bring service to almost 180,000 unserved locations over the next several years. Due to proximity and connection to the Broadband Infrastructure Committee awards, many of those project timelines are expected to accelerate.
The Office of the Governor would like to thank all the committee members who played an impactful role in evaluating the applications:
• Russell McMurry – Commissioner, Georgia Department of Transportation
• Jannine Miller – Planning Director, Georgia Department of Transportation
• Christopher Nunn – Commissioner, Georgia Department of Community Affairs
• Teresa MacCartney – Acting Chancellor, University System of Georgia
• Greg Dozier – Commissioner, Technical College System of Georgia
• Shawnzia Thomas – Executive Director, Georgia Technology Authority
• Richard Woods – State School Superintendent, Georgia Department of Education
• Eric Toler – Executive Director, Georgia Cyber Center
• Michael Nix – Executive Director, Georgia Emergency Communications Authority
• Frank Smith – Deputy Executive Director, State Properties Commission
• Sen. Blake Tillery – Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee
• Rep. Terry England – Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
• Rep. Clay Pirkle – Secretary, House State Properties Committee
• Rep. Patty Bentley – Secretary, House Higher Education Committee
• Rep. Jodi Lott – Governor’s Floor Leader
• Sen. Bo Hatchett – Governor’s Floor Leader
• Sen. Harold Jones – Secretary, Senate Ethics Committee
• Sen. Steve Gooch – State Senate Majority Whip
In total, Governor Kemp today announced 49 projects. Many represent public-private sector partnerships. In total, most recipients were local governments and non-profit organizations, and 14 service providers are represented running the gamut from large companies, EMCs, and local Georgia-based telecommunications companies. A full list is available below:
Grantee, Award Amount, Proposed Number to Serve:
Altamaha EMC: $5,973,474.00; 2,171
Baldwin County: $917,916.50; 751
Berrien County: $15,253,250.00; 4,737
Brooks County: $13,848,183.00; 3,749
Central Georgia EMC: $25,042,591.14; 19,996
Chattooga County: $3,040,732.00; 3,392
Colquitt County: $22,578,814.00; 7,448
Cook County: $10,919,655.00; 3,723
Development Authority of Dawson County: $1,332,621.00; 563
Development Authority of Lumpkin County: $3,779,902.00; 6,403
Diverse Power Incorporated: $25,000,000.00; 4,769
Early County: $11,394,739.00; 2,683
Elberton: $1,071,298.00; 836
Fannin County Development Authority: $3,013,576.00; 996
Flint EMC: $25,048,343.81; 10,659
Franklin County Board of Commissioners: $8,714,856.00; 2,812
Georgia Telecommunications Association – Brantley Telephone Company (Charlton): $665,500.00; 513
Georgia Telecommunications Association – Elijay Telephone Company (Cherokee): $773,688.00; 385
Georgia Telecommunications Association – Chickamauga Telephone Company: $489,756.01; 123
Georgia Telecommunications Association -Hargray (Camden): $593,213.00; 1,289
Georgia Telecommunications Association – Hargray (Chatham): $206,774.00; 504
Georgia Telecommunications Association – Hargray (Tattnall): $216,916.00; 148
Georgia Telecommunications Association – Plant Telephone Company: $2,229,000.00; 2,170
Georgia Telecommunications Association – Trenton Telephone Company (Dade): $6,500,000.00; 943
Habersham County: $5,784,859.00; 3,199
Jenkins County: $11,907,225.00; 1,875
Joint Development Authority of Gilmer and Pickens County: $21,418,727.00; 4,259
Lee County Board of Commissioners: $12,541,241.00; 4,234
Lowndes County: $22,514,336.00; 18,218
McDuffie County: $3,817,531.00; 2,405
Ocmulgee EMC: $19,200,341.41; 9,000
One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, Inc.: $25,387,600.00; 5,726
Southern Rivers Energy: $15,682,160.77; 10,674
Spectrum Southeast Chattahoochee: $248,027.00; 446
Spectrum Southeast Clarke: $1,094,340.00; 574
Spectrum Southeast Green: $4,931,326.00; 1,583
Spectrum Southeast Hall: $689,201.00; 831
Spectrum Southeast Newton: $998,651.00; 1,729
Spectrum Southeast Polk: $4,236,574.00; 2,272
Stephens County: $2,807,804.00; 1,393
Stewart County Commission: $6,662,285.00; 2,729
Terrell County: $9,641,770.00; 2,270
Thomas County Board of Commissioners: $6,840,302.00; 2,098
Twiggs County: $4,660,846.00; 2,034
Union County: $11,162,231.00; 8,256
Upson County Board of Commissioners: $4,430,000.00; 2,124
Walker County: $6,253,152.00; 3,339
Walton County: $3,159,215.00; 4,084
Washington EMC: $13,227,635.38: 6,500