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Program # of Grants EDA Funds
Economic Adjustment Assistance 1 $1,257,800
Public Works 2 $1,630,915
Planning 8 $497,500
1 $27,500
Total 12 $3,413,715

The mountainous areas of Western Colorado traditionally have been heavily dependent on coal mining and agriculture. When the region lost over 400 coal-related jobs, local leaders undertook an economic adjustment study that would help put the region on a path to greater economic resiliency. The study indicated that a lack of adequate broadband was a key barrier to economic development and a disadvantage for recruiting new employers. Business recruitment, retention, and expansion were inhibited by the region’s broadband service and costs. The rural geographic isolation also caused logistics and transportation issues, further limiting competitiveness.

Building on the findings of the economic adjustment study, EDA invested nearly $1.3 million in economic adjustment assistance funds to assist with the purchase and installation of broadband infrastructure in the Region 10 service area, which comprises six counties and 22 rural municipalities in West Central Colorado. The project will install equipment to enhance the leased dark fiber infrastructure to accommodate demand and deliver internet service in key locations. The project also includes a 20-year Irrevocable Right of Use lease of existing dark fiber on electric lines extending approximately 100 miles to cover major cities in the area. The new infrastructure will foster job creation and promote private investment by providing adequate and affordable broadband to assist in attracting and supporting businesses and entrepreneurs so that the area can become more resilient and recover from the job losses associated with the coal mining industry.

The project was funded through the FY15 Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, a collaborative effort between EDA, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Under POWER, federal resources are targeted to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector to diversify their economies and create jobs.

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