Valley Telecom’s Heather Floyd discussed future plans at the July 2019 Greenlee County Chamber of Commerce Mixer.

ARIZONA – A state-sponsored grant initiative to expand rural broadband will see its deadline later this week.

The Governor’s Office noted that the grants window for funds issued from the Arizona Rural Broadband Development Grant (which allocates $3 million from the state’s 2020 budget) will soon close; applications will need to be submitted by October 28. “Ensuring rural communities have access to high-speed internet is essential for accelerating economic development and providing 21st Century education opportunities,” the Governor’s Office wrote.

Rural broadband expansion was the topic of discussion in Greenlee County at the July Chamber of Commerce mixer, hosted by Valley Telecom. The business discussed its expansion of fiber optic lines in Morenci and its next planned expansion in February 2020.The company stated it was also looking to expand its service area to Loma Linda and Verde Lee, with Duncan being considered for future expansion. Those efforts are being funded in part by the Federal Universal Service Fund, which has mandated an additional expansion of 4,000 new service locations in order to secure federal funding.

Eligible applicants for the Arizona Rural Broadband Development Grant are Arizona cities and towns with fewer than 150,000 residents that are not connected to or part of “. . . a larger contiguous metro area”; Arizona counties with a population of fewer than 750,000; federally based Indian tribes located in Arizona; established nonprofit enterprises focused on economic development in Arizona; and for-profit enterprises with a minimum of five years’ operating history in the telecommunications industry.

For details on the project or to apply, interested parties can visit the Arizona Commerce Authority website at https://www.azcommerce.com/broadband/grant-opportunities/.

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