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ATMC Awarded $2.5 Million in GREAT Grant Funds to Serve Rural Areas in Columbus and Robeson Counties

Raleigh, NC – Governor Roy Cooper announced today that ATMC was one of 8 recipients to receive funding through the second round of the NC GREAT Grant broadband program. ATMC was awarded two grants totaling $2.5 million dollars that will be used to expand high speed internet service to serve more than 2,000 homes in the Columbus County communities of Fair Bluff and Boardman, and the Robeson County communities of Orrum and Proctorville. ATMC will provide an additional $1 million dollars in matching funds to complete these projects.

“ATMC is excited to once again be a recipient of the NC GREAT Grant program,” said Keith Holden, ATMC CEO. “These grants will make it possible for us to serve thousands of residents and businesses in Robeson and Columbus County that have been without reliable internet for far too long. We would like to thank the residents, farmers, business owners and community leaders who provided letters of support for these grant projects. We would also like to thank Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation for partnering with us and allowing us to use their fiber network to reach these communities. We know that now, more than ever, high speed internet is critical for families and businesses and ATMC plans to work fast to make access to reliable internet a reality in these areas”.

The Governor’s office along with the NC Department of Information Technology introduced the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program in 2019 as a way for internet service providers and cooperatives to seek and compete for funding to aid in lowering financial barriers that prevent high speed internet service expansion in Tier 1 counties. 

In his recent press conference, Governor Cooper announced that $12 million dollars would be granted through the NC GREAT Grant Program to expand rural internet access to more than 8,000 homes. “Even before the pandemic, expanding high speed internet access was a top priority for my administration,” commented Governor Cooper. “Now that we’re living in a socially distanced world, reliable internet is more important than ever, particularly for students learning remotely and people working from home. We’ll continue to work hard to expand internet to all parts of our state.”

In July, ATMC announced its completion of their ‘Faster Columbus’ NC GREAT Grant project that was awarded in 2019. Households and businesses in the Beaverdam community between Whiteville and Tabor City now have access to high speed internet with speeds of up to 1 Gigabit. The project has the potential to serve approximately 1,200 addresses in Beaverdam, with over 400 of those addresses being self-funded by the cooperative.

“We’re seeing firsthand the incredible impact that the NC GREAT Grant program is making in bringing high speed internet to rural North Carolina,” added Keith Holden. “We appreciate Governor Cooper for his focus on making the expansion of rural broadband a priority, and we are grateful for the work being done in Raleigh by Representative Brenden Jones and Senator Danny Britt to support this program that will do so much for our local area.”

ATMC is still awaiting details as to when the 2020 grant funds will be made available to begin work on the grant projects. Once those funds are released, the goal will be to complete the projects with 12 months. To stay up to date on construction of these grant projects, please visit www.fastercolumbus.com or www.fasterrobeson.com, or call 910-754-4311.

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