ATMC Awarded $7.8 Million in GREAT Grant Funds to bring Broadband Internet to Rural Areas in Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin and Robeson Counties
Raleigh, NC – Governor Roy Cooper announced today that ATMC was one of 11 recipients to receive funding through the 2020 Special Supplementary Round of the Growing Rural Economies through Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant Program. ATMC was awarded four grants totaling $7.8 million dollars that will be used to expand high-speed internet service to more than 5,000 addresses across Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin and Robeson Counties. ATMC will provide an additional $3.3 million dollars in matching funds to complete these projects.
“ATMC is excited to receive these grants through this special round of funding through the NC GREAT Grant program,” said Keith Holden, ATMC CEO. “These funds will make it possible for us to serve more than five thousand homes and businesses across four counties in areas that today don’t have access to high-speed internet.” Holden added, “We would like to thank the NC Department of Information Technology and Broadband Infrastructure Office, as well as the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Cooper’s office for their diligence in carrying out and funding these grants that help expand broadband to rural areas of our state. These grants will help connect many families and businesses who have suffered during the pandemic with limited access to high-speed internet.”
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. Funds for this special supplementary round were made available for projects in Tier 1, Tier 2 and rural census tracts of Tier 3 counties were eligible. This funding allowed ATMC to apply for the rural communities of Northwest and Sandy Creek in Brunswick County which previously had not been eligible for grant funding.
In the grant announcement press release, Governor Cooper commented, "This pandemic is shining a light on the need for better high speed internet access in rural communities. These projects will the make sure the internet can connect people to the education, health care and jobs they need.”
In July, ATMC announced its completion of their ‘Faster Columbus’ NC GREAT Grant project that was awarded in 2019. More than 1,200 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. And in August, ATMC was awarded $3.7 million for three NC GREAT grant projects that will allow the cooperative to serve additional areas in Columbus, Robeson and Duplin Counties. Construction is currently underway in the Fair Bluff area of Columbus County, and work will begin in early 2021 in Robeson and Duplin counties.
“We are incredibly thankful for the NC GREAT Grant program and the impact it is making in bridging the digital divide in North Carolina,” added Keith Holden. “We appreciate every resident, business owner and community leader that sent in letters of support on behalf of these grant projects. We are also grateful to Senators Bill Rabon and Danny Britt, and Representatives Frank Iler and Brenden Jones for their support of the GREAT grant program. We would also like to thank Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation for partnering with us and allowing us to use their fiber network to reach homes in Columbus and Robeson counties.”
ATMC is still awaiting details as to when these grant funds will be made available to begin work on the grant projects. To stay up to date on construction of these grant projects, please visit www.atmc.com, www.fastercolumbus.com, www.fasterduplin.com or www.fasterrobeson.com, or call 910-754-4311.