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Statewide broadband expansion effort awarded $600K grant

LEWISBURG — Pennsylvania will see a coordinated statewide effort to expand highspeed internet access thanks to a $600,000 grant made possible by strong legislative support in the Pennsylvania state House and Senate. The grant bolsters SEDA-Council of Governments’ (SEDA-COG) broadband expansion project in the Snow Shoe Township area of Centre County.

Mike Fisher, SEDA-COG assistant executive director, thanked state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-34), state House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), state Sen. Cris Dush (R-25), and state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Centre/Clinton) for their support in securing the grant.

“We are grateful to our legislators who recognize the crucial importance of expanding highspeed internet service to our communities and businesses, especially in these difficult times,” Fisher said. “Their efforts to secure this grant underscore a steadfast commitment to ensure that our region has access to essential broadband and technology resources now, not years from now — we couldn’t do our work without their support.”

The Keystone Communities grant was awarded to the seven Local Development Districts (LDDs) that serve 52 Pennsylvania counties. The grant complements a previous $600,000 Appalachian Regional Commission POWER broadband grant supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) awarded to the LDDs to undertake broadband expansion throughout the state.

“We truly appreciate the partnership we have with our legislative champions and the team at DCED,” Fisher said.

The LDDs are multi-county organizations providing services such as community and economic development, transportation, international trade, strategic planning, and much more. Counties share information through their LDD, respond to common concerns, and develop solutions to today’s critical issues. For over 40 years, Pennsylvania’s LDDs have taken the lead in community and business initiatives, coordinating and delivering services on behalf of their member counties as well as the Commonwealth.

SEDA-COG is one of the seven LDDs and serves 11 central Pennsylvania counties.

The LDDs will coordinate to identify areas of Pennsylvania that need broadband and then expand coverage by either providing it or incentivizing internet service providers to expand service.

As a result, broadband will be expanded to a total of 410 businesses, 860 homes, and 13 communities throughout the LDDs’ statewide regions.

The LDDs that will identify areas that need broadband are Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission, and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

The following LDDs have identified underserved areas and will expand broadband service: North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), and Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission.-

All projects are anticipated to be completed over the next 12 to 18 months.

Using $105,000 from the Keystone Communities grant and $105,000 from ARC POWER funds, SEDA-COG will establish a $210,000 grant program to incentivize internet service providers to provide broadband in the Snow Shoe area.

The project will provide 100/100 symmetrical internet speeds for at least five to 10 businesses and 50/10 for 50 to 100 households.

The infrastructure will be owned and operated by the internet service provider who is awarded the project through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process. SEDA-COG will release the RFP over the next several weeks.

As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.

For more information, please contact Liz Herman, communications manager, SEDA-Council of Governments, at 570-522-7217 or eherman@seda-cog.org.

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