Local, state and federal officials on Monday announced the distribution of $47 million in grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, including more than $400,000 for internet access in Garrett County.
With ARC’s annual conference running through Wednesday at Rocky Gap Casino Resort near Cumberland, Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin joined states’ co-chair and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Frostburg State University President Ronald Nowaczyk on campus at the Lane Center for the announcement.
The grants from the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization, or POWER Initiative, will go to 52 projects in 181 counties across the region.
The award to the Garrett County Commissioners — for $435,000 to provide broadband internet access to 300 homes — is the only one in Maryland. Bedford County, Pennsylvania, received $50,000 for a feasibility study for a business park.
“Three hundred local Maryland homes will now be able to get connectivity. That’s truly life-changing,” U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said in videotaped remarks for the announcement. “Our goal is that every house should be able to have access to high-speed internet service. We are taking a step today to make that closer to reality.”
“When attracting new families to our county, we’re finding that broadband availability is very high on their list of requirements,” Garrett Commission President Paul Edwards said in a statement. “Helping our internet service providers expand their service areas will allow our current residents and businesses to thrive, while attracting new talent to the region.”
Last year, Frostburg State received a $1.48 million POWER grant to establish programs at its Western Maryland Advanced Technology Center.
“Frostburg State University is proud to have been the first recipient of an ARC POWER implementation grant in the state of Maryland,” Nowaczyk said. “With that grant, we will help to change the trajectory of our region’s future. Next year marks the 125th anniversary that coal miners led the effort to establish FSU. Our university and our tri-state region understand how important the ARC is to the people of Appalachia. We’re proud to help usher in that future today by hosting the announcement of this year’s POWER grant awards.”
“As a lifelong small businessman, I know that a growing economy goes hand-in-hand with a flourishing workforce, and this innovative grant program is exactly what’s needed to help get our region’s workers in the coal-related industries get back on their feet — as well as expand job opportunities in multiple industries across Appalachia,” said Hogan. “I look forward to seeing how ARC’s POWER Initiative will bring new opportunities to the Appalachian region and make it a more attractive place to start a new business and to create jobs.”
Hogan will host a fireside chat Tuesday with Cal Ripken Jr. Hogan arrived in Western Maryland Sunday, and attended Garrett County’s Autumn Glory Festival before heading to Cumberland to dine at Ristorante Ottaviani and host an event at Fore Axes.