Over $206 million in grants awarded to expand internet access locally and statewide
BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Bladen, Columbus, Pender and 66 other counties will benefit from the largest round of high-speed internet grants announced on Wednesday, August 31.
Per Governor Roy Cooper’s office, almost 85,000 households and over 2,400 businesses will gain access to high-speed internet. The $206 million in grants will be distributed as part of the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program. It’s a part of Cooper’s plan to expand broadband access in the state, and the funding comes from the federal American Rescue Plan.
Focus Broadband will provide internet to new customers in Bladen, Columbus and Pender counties. In July, New Hanover County also received a GREAT grant.
The GREAT grant program requires the internet providers to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, which can help low-income people pay for phone and internet service. It is run by the N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Division of Broadband and Digital Equity.
“High-speed internet access is critical for people to work, learn, access telehealth and connect with one another,” said Cooper in the announcement. “Thanks to this significant GREAT grant award funding, many more North Carolina families and small business owners will have the tools they need to succeed in today’s digital world.”
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