8/15/17 Tobacco Commission Launches Last Mile Broadband Program

Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission

Program Aims to Expand Broadband Access in Rural Virginia

Richmond, VA – 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 to broadband and rural areas without. The Tobacco Commission has invested significantly over the years to provide this much needed access to Southern and Southwest Virginia. Since the Commission was created in 1999 it has dedicated 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 which connect individual homes and businesses to the backbone fiber network the Commission has created. To help solve this problem the Commission is setting aside $10 million from the Research & Development Committee budget to assist in the construction of these “last mile” connections. Applications will be accepted from localities that wish to expand access in unserved areas within the Commission’s footprint at speeds of at least 10Mbps, with preference given to localities applying in conjunction with private-sector partners. Funds will be disbursed to successful applicants in the form of a grant. For more information regarding the Last Mile Program please take a look at the program guidelines.

Delegate Kathy J. Byron (R-Bedford), Chairman of the Tobacco Commission Research & Development Committee, said, “This investment in public/private partnerships is the next step in the Commission’s effort to expand broadband access to unserved Virginians across Southside and Southwest. We know expanding broadband access to the unserved will have a positive effect on health and education, while simultaneously boosting the economic viability and vitality of these areas. By prioritizing unserved regions with these public-private partnerships, the Commission is wisely invested in the people it is intended to serve.”

It should be noted that while the Commission has set aside $10 million for this program it will only fund projects that meet all of the requirements laid out in the program guidelines and are approved by the Commission. This may result in a total expenditure of less than $10 million if appropriate projects are not identified to utilize the entire sum.



Contact: Jordan Butler
Telephone: 804-786-7692
Cell: 757-692-0878
Email: jordan.butler@tic.virginia.gov
Website: www.revitalizeva.org