Governor Ralph Northam has announced the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative (CBEC) and Botetourt County as the recipients of a 2019 Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) Grant from Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development. The competitive grant will provide nearly $760,000 for building fiber-to-the-home for 621 homes and 52 businesses, covering one-third of CBEC’s members in western and southern Botetourt County. The county will also provide partial matching funds to support the project and help ensure some of the least connected areas of the county will start having access to broadband.
“This is a great win for the citizens of Botetourt County,” said Shawn Hildebrand, CEO of CBEC. “The cooperative has been ready to run on this project to begin providing fiber to the homes and businesses in our service area. This announcement means that we can begin in earnest connecting our people to world.”
According to the state, projects were selected through a competitive process evaluating each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost and leverage of the proposed project. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project areas. CBEC and Botetourt County are one of 11 recipients of funding this year in the state.
“Since the Botetourt Broadband Summit in fall 2018, we have been working tirelessly to turn our words and promises into actions,” said Mac Scothorn, chairman of the Botetourt County Broadband Commission and vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “This announcement shows that our labors are beginning to bear fruit, and we are on our way to improve the broadband situation of many homes and businesses in the county.”
The Botetourt County Broadband Commission has spent much time building relationships and identifying broadband needs in the county. Its members include Mac Scothorn, Walter Grigg, Michelle Crook, Brandon Evans, and Darrell Hix, who are all active in both the public and private sectors in the county. Their work brought CBEC forward as a key partner in the deployment of fiber across the county.
“The partnership between the cooperative and the county has been supportive and successful,” said Jasper Persinger, board president of the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative. “We were looking for ways to expand services to our members; the county was looking for a means to increase the connectivity of the citizens. This partnership achieved all of those goals.”
In addition to the CBEC deployment area, the Botetourt County Broadband Commission has identified five other areas in the county of high priority for fiber buildout. The commission is in the process of developing plans and soliciting proposals for public-private partnerships for future fiber deployment.
“Deploying fiber to homes and businesses is one of the most important economic development and quality of life endeavors we can undertake in order to help rural areas succeed and prosper,” said Delegate Terry Austin. “I highly commend Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative and Botetourt County for their work.”
For more information about broadband in Botetourt County, future planned phases of fiber buildout, and a survey to tell your broadband story, please visit: https://botetourtva.gov/your-government/board-of-supervisors/#studies.