Chris Kennedy, Regional Broadband Project Director
“It takes a village to raise a roof.”
We’ve all heard this expression in one form or another most of our lives. It speaks to the essence of community engagement and involvement in solving issues and helping each other succeed. And it is certainly true about the Region 10 broadband project. With the help of state and local governments and agencies, organizations like El Pomar Foundation and local business and citizen engagement, construction has begun in Delta on the first phase of the Middle Mile network. Middle Mile refers to a not for profit network designed to bring affordable high speed broadband access and connectivity to municipal and county governments and anchor institutions across the region. The network will also provide “open access” connection points to local retail Internet Service Providers to help expand services to underserved communities.
Construction in Delta is underway while construction in Montrose began this month. We are excited that the Montrose construction project has been awarded to a local construction firm, ensuring that those dollars are invested in our local economies. Engineering and planning activities continue at breakneck speed to ensure we meet our timelines in these two communities and ready ourselves for construction to begin early next year in the remaining communities of the Region 10 service area.
The Region 10 Middle Mile project, at slightly over $14 million dollars, could never have been undertaken without the support and financial commitment of partners across the region and state. With a DOLA grant of $8.8 million dollars, federal funding from the Economic Development Administration of $1.25 million and community matching commitments of $7.4 million, the project is fully funded. The regional plan is innovatively designed to utilize existing network wherever possible, leveraging the funding through partnerships to create a cost-effective solution to regional economic development. We continue to value engineer the network to realize cost saving and sharing opportunities. It is expected that this will lead to overall cost savings that can help reduce the average cost per bit for gigabit service as the network continues to be built out. It is the opportunity to deliver lower cost broadband to our member communities that will enable each of them to embark on economic development plans specific for their communities, leverage recruitment and educational opportunities that would not have been possible without the presence and availability of affordable abundant broadband access at their doorstep.
Without the participation and input from all of our partners and stakeholders, none of this would be possible. The opportunities and potential to share resources across the region, to help foster an environment of diverse economic development are a testament to our “village” recognizing a problem and coming together to create a solution.