Grant money makes broadband a possibility in rural areas

CHENANGO COUNTY – The Chenango County Department of Planning and Development is in the early stages of a motion that may ultimately bring broadband internet access to the most rural areas of the county.

Despite its tremendous economic potential, county-wide broadband access is limited to areas where demand makes it worth while for private companies to invest in broadband infrastructure, primarily villages and the City of Norwich. But many local, state and federal legislators aim to change that.

In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would seek applications for the Community Connect grant program, an nationwide initiative to help offset costs of private companies that invest in broadband internet access throughout rural areas like Chenango County. The program offers grants of up to $3 million.

“It’s something that’s very much needed in this county,” said Donna Jones, Director of the County Department of Planning and Development. Jones cited the benefits of broadband that make internet access faster and more efficient for homes and businesses. “There would be a lot of benefit to having it available in all areas of the county,” she said. “Unfortunately right now, the percentage of people in the county with (broadband) is very low.”

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