The West Piedmont Planning District, which serves Henry, Patrick, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties and the cities of Martinsville and Danville, was awarded a more than $8 million grant from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI).
The award was among the more than $59.5 million VATI grants for 14 projects serving 20 localities throughout Virginia. The VATI program provides targeted funding to extend service to areas that are presently underserved by any broadband provider.
“In today’s increasingly digital world, having access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury, it is necessary in order to fully participate in daily life,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said when announcing the awards. “These investments will allow us to reach underserved communities, grow Virginia’s economy and close the digital divide across the Commonwealth.”
VATI’s goal is to create strong, competitive communities throughout the Commonwealth by preparing those communities to build, utilize, and capitalize on telecommunications infrastructure. This year’s funding leverages more than $118.6 million in local and private sector matching funds.
“Closing the digital divide is paramount to growing Virginia’s economy, supporting businesses and ensuring that all Virginians have the resources they need to thrive,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “These investments will connect over 29,400 homes, businesses and community anchors, making critical strides toward achieving universal broadband in Virginia.”
The Department of Housing and Community Development administers the VATI program, which provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas that are currently unserved by a provider. Projects were selected through a competitive process that evaluated each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost and leverage of the proposed project. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project area.
In this application year, VATI received 35 applications requesting more than $300 million in funding. Since 2017, Virginia has invested more than $798.7 million to connect over 358,000 homes, businesses and community anchors within 84 localities.