By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on March 21, 2022
Gov. Jim Justice recently announced the preliminary approval of over $3.9 million in Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) program funds for various broadband infrastructure projects throughout the state.
This marks the second round of grants awarded as part of Gov. Justice’s Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy, also known as the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan (WVBIP).
Grant recipients were selected among applicants in the LEAD program’s second application round, which closed on Dec. 30, 2021. Bridgeport-based Citynet to handle a $1 million project among four listed (it is shown below).
This allocation of state funding, in the amount of $3,922,732 will leverage $872,500 in additional funds, for a total broadband infrastructure investment of $4,795,232.
The investment will result in approximately 55 miles of new fiber infrastructure and will provide broadband connectivity to approximately 650 homes and businesses in West Virginia.
“My Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy is really on the move. I could not be more proud of this announcement today,” Gov. Justice said. “By providing more and more of our communities with access to high-speed internet, West Virginia will be able to truly compete on the world stage. Businesses will be able to get a leg up by utilizing all the most cutting-edge technology at their disposal and residents will be able to tap into the benefits that broadband gives all of us. It’s a win-win for everybody.
“We are opening the door to a bright new future,” Gov. Justice continued. “All West Virginians should be incredibly proud and excited for the advances that this program will inspire and the goodness it is going to bring to our state.”
Gov. Justice previously announced the preliminary approval of another $17.4 million in LEAD program funds in the first round of grants awarded as part of his Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy. With today’s announcement, the total amount approved through the program to date now exceeds $21.3 million.
The LEAD program includes one additional application round, which closed on Jan. 30, 2022. The third round of approvals will be issued in the coming weeks.
Funding for the WVBIP’s LEAD program is provided through the West Virginia Legislature’s allocation of $100 million to create the West Virginia Broadband Development Fund. The Fund includes $90 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $10 million in state general revenue funds. Funds are also derived through the ARPA Capital Projects Fund, which includes $136 million for broadband development in West Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development’s Office of Broadband will administer program funds.
Under the WVBIP, projects selected for award will receive a Preliminary Approval Announcement, which will be published on broadband.wv.gov. Internet Service Providers other than the applicant will receive an opportunity to submit data to the West Virginia Department of Economic Development demonstrating that the ISP currently offers broadband service at 25/3 Mbps or greater to addresses within the Proposed Project Funded Service Area. Data submitted must meet all the requirements described in the Process for Soliciting Information Regarding Unserved Areas, which the Department published on July 12, 2021.
Citynet: Shavers Fork, Helvetia, Crestview
LEAD Program Funds: $788,522
Matching Funds: $197,000
Total Project Cost: $985,522
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 10
Targeted Addresses: 278
Project Summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Citynet for the expansion of broadband service to 278 targeted addresses in Taylor and Randolph Counties. The project will include the installation of approximately 10 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Shenandoah Cable Television Shenandoah Cable Television: North Fork Highway, Sunrise Drive and Corners Road, Grant County
LEAD Program Funds: $420,630
Matching Funds: $238,500
Total Project Cost: $659,130
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 9
Targeted Addresses: 141
Project Summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Shentel for the expansion of broadband service to 141 targeted addresses in Grant County. The project will include the installation of approximately 9.5 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Lingo Networks: Eastern Pendleton County, Phase I
LEAD Program Funds: $2,296,596
Matching Funds: $297,000
Total Project Cost: $2,593,596
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 31
Targeted Addresses: 106
Project Summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Lingo Networks for the expansion of broadband service to 106 targeted addresses in Pendleton County. The project will include the installation of approximately 31.5 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.
Hardy Telecommunications: South Mill Creek Road, Grant County
LEAD Program Funds: $416,984
Matching Funds: $140,000
Total Project Cost: $556,984
Estimated Fiber Mileage: 5
Targeted Addresses: 117
Project Summary: WVBIP LEAD funds will be awarded to Hardy Telecommunications for the expansion of broadband service to 117 targeted addresses in Grant County. The project will include the installation of approximately 5 miles of fiber infrastructure to provide broadband service in the project area.