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CERB invests more than $10 million in rural, broadband projects

The Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) yesterday approved $8,272,040 million in grants and $1,975,000 in low-interest loans for planning, economic development and rural broadband infrastructure construction projects.

Five rural broadband projects were approved for nearly $8 million in funding from the CERB coronavirus capital projects fund, enabling an estimated 3,362 high-speed internet connections once completed. Projects are located in Grays Harbor, Kitsap, Mason, Skagit and Thurston counties. The Port of Skagit County project was also approved for a $1 million CERB loan.

In addition to rural broadband investments, the board approved a $200,000 grant and $600,000 loan for the Cooperative Way construction project in the city of West Richland, Benton County. This investment under the CERB’s committed private partner program supplements $6 million in private investment. Additionally, a the Planters Hotel project in Sunnyside, Yakima County, was also approved for funding – a $125,000 grant and $375,000 loan from CERB’s prospective development funds, supplementing $50,000 in private investment. These two projects are expected to create an estimated 31 full-time jobs in the communities.

Planning grants totaling $125,000 were also approved for projects in Klickitat, Mason and Whitman counties.

Find details of all the projects approved at yesterday’s CERB meeting here.

“These projects represent the range of projects that CERB funds. Projects that lead to job growth and broadband connectivity across the state through infrastructure development and planning. The board is pleased to collaborate with each of these communities as they work to create permanent private sector jobs and broadband access.” said CERB Chair Randy Hayden.

“CERB investments in rural broadband are an important element of Washington state’s commitment to economic vitality and digital equity,” said Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Access to affordable high-speed internet strengthens communities – it is essential for all residents to be able to learn, work, access telemedicine, and embrace opportunities to thrive wherever they choose to live.”

Washington state is preparing for historic state and federal investments in broadband and digital equity. In addition to grants and loans from CERB, the state’s Public Works Board and Washington State Broadband Office are partnering with communities statewide to bring universal access to high-speed internet by 2024. Part of that effort includes a speed survey to determine where there are gaps in service. Individuals can take part in the one-minute speed test by visiting broadband.wa.gov.

The release of CERB funds to the projects approved today is contingent upon each applicant completing specific pre-contract requirements, such as finalizing other funding sources and obtaining necessary permits.

Since 1982, CERB has committed nearly $211 million to local jurisdictions across the state, an investment generating more than 37,800 jobs, and private capital investment of a $5.8 billion – a $29-to-$1 return on CERB investments. Read the 2020 CERB Legislative Report

Since 2018, CERB has committed $28 million to rural broadband infrastructure to local jurisdictions and Tribes.  These investments are estimated to generate 18,734 connections, through 23 projects, across 60 rural underserved communities. Read the 2020 CERB Rural Broadband Legislative Report

As Washington’s strategic economic development resource, CERB is focused on creating private sector jobs in partnership with local governments by financing infrastructure improvements. These improvements encourage new business development and expansion. In addition to funding construction projects, CERB provides limited funding for studies that evaluate high-priority economic development projects. Learn more about CERB at www.commerce.wa.gov/cerb.


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