03.25.10

Vermont Delegation Heralds Grant For Vermont Council on Rural Development

...$2.5 Million Will Launch Broadband Project In 24 Vermont Towns

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch announced Thursday that the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The grant, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will complete the funding needed to launch VCRD’s “e-Vermont: The Vermont Community Broadband Project”, which will stimulate broadband use in 24 Vermont towns by identifying best practices for increasing sustainable broadband access.

This project, which will cost $3.7 million, will be led by VCRD over the next two years and will bring broadband to schools, businesses, local governments, libraries and other community agencies in areas of the state that have not yet received broadband access. VCRD is a non-profit dedicated to the support of locally-defined progress of Vermont’s rural communities and had advocated for universal broadband service for 10 years.

"The Vermont Council on Rural Development has done an excellent job bringing together organizations to make sure all Vermonters have access to the information super highway,” said Leahy, who wrote to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke last August in support of the application. "The impact of eVermont will yield both short-term and long-term community development benefits, creating new jobs, educating children and using technology to improve Vermonters' lives."

Sanders said, “Throughout America, there are thousands of communities which still lack the adequate broadband services necessary for today’s business and education.  In 21st century America, we cannot allow towns across Vermont to be left behind technologically.”

“Vermont’s economic future is dependent upon families, businesses and communities having full access to broadband,” Welch said. “We must accelerate broadband deployment across Vermont – in towns and cities large and small. This investment in rural broadband access is an important step forward in that effort.”

Municipal leaders and other local organizations that are interested in adding their community to the list of towns to be considered should contact VCRD at 802-223-6091 or by email at info@vtrural.org.  Details on the applications process will be announced soon and posted at www.vtrural.org.

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