WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced today that Hometown Cable Company, LLC will receive more than $4.6 million in funding for a broadband infrastructure project to expand rural access to approximately 49,160 people, 522 businesses, and 206 community institutions in Darke and Preble Counties. The funding, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
"Expanding Internet access to our rural communities promotes economic development throughout Ohio. That is why we need to ensure that all households have access to broadband," Brown said. "With these funds, Hometown Cable Company, LLC will help promote economic growth and improve the competitiveness of Ohio communities in underserved areas. This is an investment in the future of our state."
Hometown Cable Company, LLC - based in Coldwater, Ohio - will deploy a countywide wireless wide area network with fixed and mobile broadband service throughout Darke and Preble Counties. Brown helped secure these funds, which will not only expand broadband access, but are also expected to create more than 500 jobs and spur economic development in traditionally underserved areas throughout the region.
Broadband bridges the digital gap that too often disadvantages rural Ohio - undermining business development and compromising timely access to basic public services like fire, police, and health care. In August, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce announced that Ohio's Middle Mile Consortium (OMMC), a public-private state-wide partnership, will receive more than $141 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for broadband expansion. This includes more than $66 million to fund the Connecting Appalachia Broadband Plan which expands broadband into 34 Ohio Appalachian and rural counties.
Brown also sponsored the Rural Broadband Act that would establish a federal Office of Broadband Initiatives dedicated to creating a comprehensive rural broadband strategic vision and increasing access to the Internet in rural parts of the United States. Brown also authored an amendment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to increase USDA funding for broadband. The amendment directed $2.5 billion through the USDA to target rural and underserved communities.
According to an analysis released by the National Economic Council last year, overall Recovery Act investments in broadband are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand economic development and job opportunities in communities that would otherwise be left behind in the new knowledge-based economy. Upon passage of the Recovery Act last year, Brown convened a day long workshop among potential broadband applicants and brought U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager to Ohio to discuss the application process and encourage local collaboration and partnerships.