TOBACCO COMMISSION MEETS IN RICHMOND
Commission Approves 9 Funding Requests for Broadband Expansion Projects
Richmond, VA – The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission met on Thursday, March 8th to review proposals to extend broadband service. The Commission approved 9 funding requests for broadband expansion projects in Southern and Southwest Virginia, totaling more than $11 million in new spending. The projects approved at this meeting will result in broadband becoming available for more than 31,000 homes and businesses and Tobacco Commission investment will be matched by more than $16 million in additional funds. All funded projects will provide high-quality internet access, with speeds equaling or exceeding 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.
More information about each project can be found here: Project Details
Tobacco Commission Chairman, Delegate Terry Kilgore said, “Access to broadband is vital if we are to continue developing a diverse economy in Southern and Southwest Virginia. Broadband plays an important role in everything from making sure our students receive a first class education to attracting new businesses to our region. I am pleased that the Commission chose to fund these projects that will ensure more homes and businesses receive this vital service and look forward to seeing these projects get underway.”
Tobacco Commission Research & Development Committee Chair, Delegate Kathy Byron added, “Having worked on expanding broadband for more than a decade, I am very pleased with the commitment made by the Tobacco Commission to these projects. For me, this is the beginning. I am committed to using every resource possible to ensure our rural communities receive the same level of access as our urban and suburban areas. We still have a ways to go, but this is a great start.”
In today’s world access to a broadband connection is more critical than ever. Unfortunately, many rural areas lack access to this vital utility and this has created a “digital divide” between urban areas with access and rural areas without. The Tobacco Commission has worked hard over the years to provide this much needed access to Southern and Southwest Virginia. Since the Commission was created in 1999 it has invested over $150 million to create fiber infrastructure across the region. This has attracted significant investment and high paying jobs at data centers and other employers that rely on high speed broadband connections.
Though much progress has been made, the Commission knows there is still much work to be done particularly when it comes to “last mile” connections that connect individual homes and businesses to the backbone fiber network the Commission has created. The projects approved at this meeting are a continuation of this work and will provide access to homes and businesses that are currently without this vital utility. Additionally, these projects are likely to result in additional connections once providers begin to build out networks in new areas.
Tobacco Commission Executive Director, Evan Feinman said, “Every citizen in Southside and Southwest Virginia deserves access to high-quality broadband so they can fully participate in our modern economy. These investments are a great first step, but will need to be one of many if we’re going to get the job done for Southern and Southwest VA.”
The Tobacco Commission is committed to developing a diverse economy in the areas we serve. Broadband expansion will continue to be a focus of the Commission as we work to attract businesses and increase opportunity across Southern and Southwest Virginia.
Contact: Jordan Butler
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE