Members urged support for Colorado program to create jobs, boost economic development
WASHINGTON—Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation today joined U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in announcing more than $100 million in grant funding for the Longmont-based Centennial Board of Cooperative Education Services through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
This $100.6 million grant, with an additional $34.7 million in matching contributions, will allow Centennial Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to offer affordable middle-mile broadband service in Colorado, with a particular focus on serving rural and underserved school districts. The project plans to improve broadband access for as many as 230 community institutions. As many as 3.8 million people stand to benefit as well as 50,000 businesses.
“As representatives of Colorado’s congressional delegation, we are well aware of the inconsistent and in some case, completely non-existent high speed broadband services for some of our most vulnerable communities,” the lawmakers wrote. “EAGLE-net will serve as the non-profit network to community anchor institutions throughout the state, including 178 K-12 school districts serving over 2,000 schools and 800,000 students, 16 community colleges, 26 libraries, 12 BOCES, two institutions of higher education, public safety and health care providers, as well as city and county governments. Wholesale services offered through EAGLE-net are expected to stimulate the offering of affordable broadband access for more than 1.2 million households and more than 49,000 businesses.”
“This is incredible news for Colorado schools, families, and our economy,” said Rep. Betsy Markey. “By focusing on a non-profit model and by bringing in the experience of the private sector, this funding will help truly bridge the middle mile of the digital divide which impacts so many communities across Colorado.”
“These resources will help rural communities all across Colorado bridge the digital divide,” said Sen. Michael Bennet. “Hundreds of communities that have lacked reliable or any high-speed Internet will now be connected to new opportunities online. Expanding access to broadband in Colorado will connect students with new opportunities to learn, workers with new skills and small businesses with new markets and customers that will help them grow and create jobs."