Gov. Lee announces $61 million in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund grants

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(WKRN Graphics)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Friday, Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced $61 million will be awarded in Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund grants to improve access to broadband internet across the state.

The grants are funded through the State’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only further elevated the importance of access to reliable, affordable broadband internet to facilitate telemedicine, distance learning, and telecommuting,” Gov. Lee said in a statement released by his office.

“I thank the members of our Financial Stimulus Accountability Group and the Department of Economic and Community Development for their work in distributing these funds to shovel-ready projects that will directly benefit Tennesseans.”

The department of Economic and Community Development received 84 applications for $89.1 million in funding. Following review and a public comment period, 62 projects representing $61.1 million will be funded.

The statement goes on to say the remaining $28 million in projects were denied ‘due to a number of factors including project feasibility, applicant experience, and public comments received from existing broadband providers.”

Unfunded applicants will be invited to submit an application for the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Program.

Pursuant to federal guidelines, these projects are limited to those that would enhance access to individuals and families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of broadband access in their area.

Eligible entities included those authorized to provide broadband services in Tennessee, and eligible areas were limited to those unserved or underserved locations lacking all equipment necessary to provide a broadband connection capable of supporting telemedicine, distance learning, and telecommuting.

More information on the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund can be found here.

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