A few weeks ago, economic stimulus money started to trickle into the state of Georgia-especially rural Georgia-in regard to improving broadband connection.
North Georgia was the first to receive funding.
Recently, more funding has been officially allocated to parts of rural southwest Georgia.
There had been critics of the economic stimulus in regard to impact, but some Georgia officials believe it is a win-win situation.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said he, too, believed the investment in fiber optics could improve the state’s largest sector: agriculture.
“Technology’s where you get things done,” Irvin said. “And if you’re not out there using the technology to its fullest, then you’re behind the times.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s August 18th announcement of $20 million in stimulus funding will be allocated to into several southwest Georgia rural counties in an effort to open the proverbial door to the world wide web.
Vilsack said that $13 million in stimulus funds have been set aside specifically for the development of high-speed broadband in Baker, Calhoun, Early, Mitchell and Miller counties.
An additional $4.5 million in stimulus grants, plus a $1.5 million private match will allow Internet provider Windstream, to increase and enhance high-speed broadband lines throughout south Georgia to speeds of up to 12 mega-bits per second, Vilsack said.
The other counties include: Brooks, Dooly, Grady, Macon, Sumter, Seminole, Schley, Talbot, and Thomas counties.
“There is no more important infrastructure in the 21st century than expanding broadband access,” Vilsack said. “It will help farmers get up to the minute commodity and weather information, help grow and expand small businesses, further education of our students in schools and increase access to healthcare through telemedicine.”
Congressman Sanford D. Bishop had announced earlier this month that the Windstream Corporation of Georgia will receive an award of over $5.1 million to extend its broadband network to provide broadband service to homes and businesses in Southwest Georgia currently not serviced with broadband.
The project stands to benefit approximately 44,000 Georgians. In addition, 2,000 business and nearly 120 community institutions stand to benefit from the project.
Congressman Bishop said, “This broadband project greatly benefits the Second Congressional District. It will help our rural communities, enabling them to more fully participate in our recovering economy, while we continue to modernize rural education and health care. It will create jobs and economic opportunities for our rural businesses throughout Georgia, allowing them to take advantage of technology to help them remain profitable and competitive.”