Many Virginians living and working in some of the commonwealth’s most rural and isolated communities don’t have the access to fast, reliable internet enjoyed in and around the “urban crescent” of Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. A massive new grant will change that for residents in a historically underserved region in southwestern Virginia.
Story (if dek): Through a $25 million federal grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program and funded by President Joe Biden’s 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, more than 17,000 residents, almost 50 educational facilities, and over 1,000 businesses in Norton and in Wise and Lee counties will finally have high-speed internet.
Lawmakers were quick to laud the grant.
“Reliable internet access leads to economic growth, educational opportunities, access to quality health care, and many other assets,” said Rep. Morgan Griffith (VA-09).
Sen. Mark Warner, who spent 20 years as a technology and business executive, said, “For almost two decades, dating all the way back to my time as governor, I have stressed the need for access to broadband coverage and high-speed internet in every corner of the Commonwealth … Access to fast, reliable, and affordable internet is crucial to ensuring our rural communities grow and thrive.”
“High-quality internet is crucial to reach services like health care, work, and educational opportunities,” added Sen. Tim Kaine. “Every Virginian, no matter where they live, deserves access to affordable, reliable internet access.”
This broadband access grant follows another recent investment in Virginia’s internet infrastructure announced earlier this summer. In June, the commonwealth netted almost $1.5 billion in federal funds through the new infrastructure law to bring broadband to many rural communities.