PHOENIX — During the next month, rural Arizona communities will have a shot to upgrade their Internet service through grant funding.
On Sept. 19, the Arizona Commerce Authority announced that grant applications to enhance broadband in rural communities were being accepted for broadband enhancement. The Arizona Rural Broadband Development Grant, offering $3 million in funding, will be used to support planning and deployment of broadband services.
The funds were requested by Governor Doug Ducey and approved by the State Legislature for the fiscal year 2020 budget.
“High speed internet is essential for accelerating economic development, enhancing education, strengthening health care and improving public safety in every part of Arizona,” Ducey said in a Sept. 19 press release from the Governor’s Office. “Arizona’s investment in these grants will create opportunities for rural communities to jumpstart their access to fast, reliable internet.”
“In this digital age, connectivity is crucial for economic growth,” Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Sandra Watson said in the press release. “This grant will help rural Arizona communities increase their competitiveness and create new opportunities for their residents.”
There will be two categories of grants: those for broadband infrastructure building projects, with a maximum award of $1 million per project, and those to help communities develop broadband plans, with a maximum award of $50,000 per project.
Eligible applicants are Arizona cities and towns with populations under 150,000 that are not part of a larger contiguous metro area; Arizona counties with populations under 750,000; federally based Indian tribes located in Arizona; established nonprofit enterprises focused on economic development in Arizona; and for-profit enterprises with at least five years of operating in the telecommunications industry.
Applications must be submitted by Oct. 28, 2019, and grant awards will be announced on Dec. 19, 2019. For application details visit the Arizona Commerce Authority’s broadband website at: https://www.azcommerce.com/broadband/grant-opportunities/.