Polk County’s state representative, Jake Johnson, attended a recent Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting to announce that a grant the county and Charter Communications worked together to submit has been awarded.
Johnson, who is the Chairman of the Information Technology Appropriation House Standing Committee, told the commissioners that the state will award $4 million through the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Program to provide broadband internet service within the county.
“It was the most they could potentially be granted from the state of North Carolina,” Rep. Johnson said. “The money will go to the provider to invest in Polk County.”
According to Rep. Johnson, Charter Communications would then match over $7 million to the project. The next step in this process is acceptance and negotiation of the grant between the State of North Carolina and the provider.
Johnson said there was another $1 million coming from the federal government also for broadband internet service. The Polk County Board of Commissioners previously agreed to contribute $250,000 to this project.
Funds for the GREAT grant program would potentially bring broadband internet to more than 3,500 households and businesses in Polk County.
“This will be a very quick rollout,” Rep. Johnson said. “We’re hoping to start breaking ground later this year and that’s supposed to be a two-year buildout. This is going to help folks who have kids that are going to school in our school system, people who are trying to do tele-health, people who are working from home, people who are trying to start a new small business, businesses relocating here. I truly believe this will touch every sector in the county.”
During the Board of Commissioners meeting Rep. Johnson also stated that more grants will be awarded later this month and there is hope that Polk County may receive another GREAT award through Windstream.