Senator Mark Warner met with representatives from the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative elected leaders, and community members from Botetourt and Craig Counties last Saturday to hear about the remaining gaps in broadband infrastructure and current plans to expand coverage in the broader region through the use of federal funding made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law and American Rescue Plan.
Botetourt County Administrator Gary Larrowe, Director of Economic Development Ken McFadyen, Board of Supervisors member Dr. Mac Scothorn, and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Khari Ryder spoke with Sen. Warner during the meeting discussing the broadband expansion throughout Botetourt County.
During their conversation, Sen. Warner discussed the some of the issues Virginia’s faced when co-ops are positioning broadband throughout the county.
“One of the things I heard during our conversation – and this did not come as a surprise – is that folks in Botetourt and Craig County are facing the same supply chain challenges and high costs as folks in nearly every other industry,” Sen. Warner explained in a recent email. “This is something that’s affecting our co-ops by making it more difficult for them to secure the materials they need to bring fiber into the county and deploy broadband.
“This is just one of the reasons I’m working to get our bipartisan innovation bill finally passed through Congress. While it won’t be like flipping a switch, getting this bill done will help us ease some of those bottle necks and bring down costs across the board.”
This event took place on the heels of last month’s announcement in the American Rescue Plan of $219.8 million in broadband funding for Virginia, which comes from the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund authored by Sen. Warner and included in the American Rescue Plan.
“Once the funding has been allocated, we’ll need to focus on one of the hardest parts of the job: making sure that these funds are spent wisely and that the money actually leads to universal broadband,” Sen. Warner continued. “I have already begun discussions with the Commerce Department and other relevant agencies regarding implementation of these important programs, and I want to make sure we’re holding providers’ feet to the fire, so to speak, and that promises made are kept.”