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Public input sought for Port of Columbia broadband project

 

August 20, 2020



DAYTON—Over the past few years, Port of Columbia officials have been working on a plan to increase broadband access to people in the local community. A broadband feasibility study was completed by the Port in February of this year. The result is a $2 million plan for the Port to build a broadband infrastructure, which can then be used by private internet service providers to provide high-speed internet service at an affordable rate.

The Port will hold a Broadband Informational Meeting scheduled on Zoom on Aug. 31, at 6 pm, and is seeking input from the public. Representatives from other Ports that have implemented similar projects are invited to speak as well as interested stakeholders, and a short presentation outlining the Port’s plan will be provided.

The Port’s Executive Director, Jennie Dickinson, presented the Port commissioners with information about a new opportunity for broadband funding, at their regular meeting on Aug.12.

Dickinson said the Washington State Public Works Board has a $17 million fund available for broadband projects, and Columbia County qualifies for a 90-percent grant.

“It’s too good of an opportunity to pass up,” she told the commissioners.

The Port is required to provide a 10-percent match for the grant, and Dickinson said she has been reaching out to community partners and area foundations for help.

The results from the Aug. 31 meeting will guide the Port in the application process, which is due on Sept. 9.

A state-wide mapping initiative, through the Dept. of Commerce, will help identify gaps in high-speed internet service, along with areas of broadband infrastructure need to advance the state’s goal for universal broadband access, by 2024.

The results will help the state decide whether counties are deserving of the Public Works Board funding, Dickinson said.

The broadband speed test is on the Port of Columbia website is located https://www.portofcolumbia.org/economic-development/broadband/.

The Aug. 31 Zoom meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8916869076?pwd=WlhLOWVnZkEySi9TZmtTNEU0dlFqUT09.

 

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