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Rural Development celebrates NE Ga. broadband projects
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BLAIRSVILLE — Representatives of USDA Rural Development and Windstream Corporation met Monday to celebrate funding for broadband projects in Northeast Georgia.           

 

“Broadband service will link families and businesses to all the resources of the Internet,” said Donnie Thomas, acting state director. “This can open businesses up to new markets and customers, which will be good for everyone.”

 

The project that most impacts Northeast Georgia is a grant for $6,940,375 to Windstream to provide service to about 29,000 people, 750 businesses and 50 other community institutions primarily in Dawson, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties. The company will contribute $2,313,458 towards project costs.

 

“Windstream is eager to extend high-speed Internet service deeper into rural Georgia and this funding will make it financially possible to reach many additional homes and businesses,” said Jim Kortum, vice president of Windstream’s Georgia operations.

 

“Broadband access will give rural residents here in Northeast Georgia a powerful new tool for meeting their educational, business and entertainment needs. It will truly open doors and create economic opportunities,” he added.

 

The project was among 10 grants and five loans Georgia received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) totaling $99,261,243.

 

Broadband programs are for the cost of construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment required to provide broadband service to eligible rural communities. ARRA authorized loans and grants for projects that extend broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas. Other considerations for funding include sound technical and financial feasibility.

 

In addition to the Northeast Georgia grant, Windstream received two other grants for projects in Georgia that total an additional $9,794,691.

 

The company will receive a $5,129,575 grant to provide service to more than 44,000 people, more than 2,000 businesses, and 120 community institutions in the following 20 counties: Baldwin, Berrien, Brooks, Chattooga, Colquitt, Dodge, Dooly, Irwin, Jones, Macon, Meriwether, Pickens, Schley, Stephens, Talbot, Telfair, Thomas, Turner, Wheeler and Whitfield. Windstream is contributing $1,709,859 towards project costs.

 

Windstream also is receiving a grant for $4,665,116 to bring broadband to 8,723 people, 284 businesses, and 35 community institutions in the following counties: Appling, Charlton, Dodge, Early, Miller, Rabun, Seminole, Tattnall, Telfair, Upson, Walker and Wayne. Windstream is contributing $1,555,038 towards project costs.

 

As a result of the projects, Windstream’s existing network will be upgraded to deliver up to a maximum of 12 Mbps to customers in many rural areas that don’t currently have broadband service.

 

For more information on the broadband program, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/rus/telecom/index.htm. For more information specific to Georgia, contact Andrew Hayes at andrew.hayes@wdc.usda.gov or (770) 312-7073.                                                     

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