CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced an $18.7 million investment into high-speed broadband in Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Barbour and Upshur counties.
The investment will allow the Harrison Rural Electrification Association to construct a fiber-to-the-premises network connecting households, farms, five educational institutions and a critical community facility.
Kris Warner, the West Virginia state director for the USDA, said Monday the plan will improve connectivity 6,300 households and up to 383 farms.
“This project is providing a critical communications investment in some truly rural areas of West Virginia,” Warner said. “Through USDA’s ReConnect program, these counties will get access to the latest broadband technology. This will have a positive economic impact for the farms, small businesses and families that live in these communities. Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to this strong partnership with rural communities in deploying this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Warner added there is also $6.2 million in private investment, bringing the total investment to $24.9 million.
U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito issued a joint press release praising the announcement.
“Adequate access to broadband is crucial to the health of West Virginia businesses and communities. Rural areas, like many in West Virginia, are often overlooked because it’s expensive to deploy broadband, which is why I have made improving broadband access across West Virginia one of my top priorities in Washington,” Manchin, D-W.Va. said.
“Access and affordability of rural broadband has always been a priority of mine, and I’m grateful to see Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration prioritize this issue,” Capito, R-W.Va., noted.
House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, also shared his enthusiasm for Monday’s announcement.
“This is phenomenal news that marks a major investment in broadband infrastructure in a critical part of the state,” he said in a statement.
MAJOR BROADBAND ANNOUNCEMENT: So glad I could join @USDA today in Harrison Co. to announce a $18M ReConnect grant that will build 400+ miles of fiber-to-the-premise networks to help thousands of West Virginians. DETAILS on this #CapitoConnect win here: https://t.co/LmVrE3RGd0 pic.twitter.com/ic1G38rdJh
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) January 20, 2020