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December 7, 2022

$4M in grants to broaden broadband in 26 communities, tribal areas

chart with bubbles and words COURTESY / MAINE CONNECTIVITY AUTHORITY The Maine Connectivity Authority awarded 26 grants to community, regional and tribal organizations to ensure universal connectivity.

The Maine Connectivity Authority has awarded 26 grants to community, regional and tribal organizations to help deploy, sustain and maximize the benefits of broadband infrastructure in all state regions.

Competitive grants totaling more than $4 million will provide technical assistance and other services that support community-driven broadband solutions.

Each partner will build and lead digital inclusion efforts while also supporting community and regional-scale broadband infrastructure solutions and investments.

The initiative is administered through the Regional & Tribal Broadband Partners and Get Ready Community Support programs.

“People here need accessible, affordable high-speed internet access, and this investment is an important step in building the networks that will allow Washington County residents to realize the educational, economic, health and other important benefits that high-speed internet can provide,” Charles Rudelitch, executive director of the Sunrise County Economic Council, said in a news release.

The recipients include:

  •  Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments ($153,078)
  •  Eastern Maine Development Corporation ($250,000)
  •  Four Directions Development Corporation ($250,000)
  • Greater Franklin Development Council ($215,743)
  • Greater Portland Council of Governments ($250,000)
  • GrowSmart Maine ($183,400)
  • Island Institute ($250,000)
  • Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission ($234,420)
  • Northern Forest Center ($246,081)
  • Northern Maine Development Corporation ($250,000)
  • Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission ($249,567)
  • Somerset Economic Development ($209,500)
  • Sunrise County Economic Council ($203,373)

“Investing in staffing and capacity to support broadband and digital inclusion will ensure that the true impact of this generational investment in universal connectivity will be felt by all people and communities in Maine,” said Maggie Drummond-Bahl, the authority’s strategic partnership director.

The regional and tribal partners will receive funding and support from the authority in partnership with the Maine Broadband Coalition and National Digital Equity Center. The program will offer a two-year funding commitment with a maximum of $500,000. The awards listed above include funding for the program's first year.

Community support

The Get Ready Community Support program will invest $1 million in community broadband planning throughout the state through technical support and the coordination of multiple professional service providers. The authority aims to make the planning process more efficient and to build a pipeline of private-public partnerships ready to leverage and accelerate future deployment of statewide broadband funding.

“The pandemic has taught us that high-speed connectivity is crucial for education, commerce, telehealth and dealing with isolation,” said Greene resident Carl Bucciantini. 

Members of the first Get Ready cohort will receive up to $10,000 in direct funding in addition to professional services. Services include technical support to develop high-level network designs, financial support to develop a capital cost analysis, legal assistance, and project management and meeting facilitation support. These services will be customized for each community group to complement their prior planning efforts and existing partnerships.

The recipients include:

  • Bath Fiber Optic Alliance
  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation (Lincoln, Newport and Milford)
  • Eastport Fiber Connectivity Committee
  • Four Directions/Wabanaki Nations (Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point)
  • Frankfort/Stockton Springs/Winterport Broadband Committee
  • Greater Portland Council of Governments (Casco, Raymond, Sebago, Naples and Standish)
  • Greene Broadband Committee
  • Schoodic Peninsula Broadband 
  • Town of Chelsea
  • Town of Dresden
  • Town of Woolwich
  • Wiscasset Broadband Committee

“Maine is known nationally for its investments and progress in community-driven broadband planning, and a million-dollar investment in our first cohort of Get Ready communities is a reflection of the state’s commitment to partner with communities,” said Kendra Jo Grindle, the authority’s community capacity manager. “This program is designed to build a pipeline for infrastructure investment while providing the technical support to accelerate their planning process.” 

Established in 2021, the Maine Connectivity Authority is a quasi-governmental agency charged with achieving universal access to affordable high-speed broadband in Maine and is designed to proactively address the state’s connectivity needs while managing the unprecedented influx of funding for the development of the state’s broadband infrastructure.

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