Ozark receives $1.9 million grant to expand broadband

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 961 views 

Residents of Ozark are set to benefit from a $1.909 million grant through the Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) broadband grant program. It’s the second grant awarded by the program managed by the Arkansas Department of Commerce.

Fort Smith-based Pinnacle Telecom will work with the city of Ozark to deploy fiber to homes in the city.

“The ARC program is an illustration of Arkansas creating successful public-private partnerships,” Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said in a statement. “Arkansans continue to find creative solutions to difficult problems, and deploying broadband through the ARC program is another example of our innovative spirit.”

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. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was approved by Congress earlier this year to provide aid to individuals, businesses and state and local governments in response to the pandemic.

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 Dec. 30. The goal of the program is to provide high speed broadband to rural communities.

“Providing quality broadband to rural communities such as Ozark is a top priority for my administration,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Rural communities have been without broadband for too long, and the ARC program is designed to level the playing field for students and rural economies.”

The department is evaluating applications with a focus on projects that can deploy broadband to qualified areas before Dec. 30.