First Arkansas Rural Connect grant awarded

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 697 views 

The Arkansas Department of Commerce has announced its first Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) broadband grant.

The grant, in the amount of $1,568,750.25, has been awarded to Fairfield Bay in partnership with Arkansas Telephone Company (Artelco). The project will deploy fiber to homes in Fairfield Bay.

“This is the first of many projects to be awarded to rural Arkansas communities,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “The ARC grant program is important for the long-term success of our state’s economy.”

The Arkansas Department of Commerce received $19.3 million in CARES Act funds for ARC grants after an approval from the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas legislature.

Grant recipients must expend the COVID-19 federal funds by Dec. 30 of this year. Additionally, $4.7 million is available in state funds for projects that would extend beyond December 30. The goal of the program is to provide high speed broadband to rural communities.

“COVID-19 reminds us that broadband is a necessity. Arkansans need strong connectivity for telemedicine, distance education, and telework,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Broadband and the ARC program are vital for our response during this pandemic.”