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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $1.7 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Boost Commerce by Increasing High-Speed Internet Connectivity in Elkins, West Virginia

Award is Part of the Department of Commerce’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.7 million grant to Woodlands Development Group, Inc., Elkins, West Virginia, to support business and job growth by increasing internet connectivity in underserved communities. This grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan and EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment.

This grant will support the deployment of 58 miles of aerial fiber to underserved communities in Randolph and Tucker counties, a region impacted by the declining use of coal. The EDA investment will be matched with $2.5 million in other federal funds and is expected to create 75 jobs, retain 82 jobs and generate $13.8 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“President Biden is committed to harnessing the full power of the federal government to ensure our nation not only recovers from this pandemic but builds a better America for the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This award reaffirms the President’s commitment to increasing internet accessibility throughout the United States and lays a strong foundation for the critical investments we will make to expand high-speed internet thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This investment will enhance the connectivity of small businesses, distance learners, underserved residents, and remote workers in Randolph and Tucker counties while helping the region transition from a coal-centric economy.”

“Access to affordable, reliable broadband is vital to the success and growth of our communities across West Virginia, which is why I am pleased the EDA is supporting the Woodlands Development Group’s efforts to boost connectivity in Randolph and Tucker Counties,” said Senator Joe Manchin. “West Virginia continues to see the benefits of critical American Rescue Plan investments that spur economic development and create good-paying, long-term jobs, and I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of this funding for our communities.”

“I am pleased to see that Randolph County has received this EDA grant to support business and job growth in Elkins,” said Congressman Alex Mooney (WV-02). “The installation of underground fiber cable is vital to the competitive future of rural communities. This funding will help accelerate high speed internet access and spur job creation in Randolph and Tucker counties.”

This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which makes $500 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance grants available to American communities. The Economic Adjustment Assistance program is EDA’s most flexible program, and grants made under this program will help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through construction or non-construction projects designed to meet local needs.

EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment allocates $300 million of EDA’s $3 billion American Rescue Plan appropriation to support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic and to help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Effective May 26, 2022, EDA has officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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