WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Garrett County Board of Commissioners’ broadband feasibility study. Currently, only 65 percent of households in the county have access to broadband Internet. The lack of broadband Internet access in Garrett County impacts the community in education, economic development, and community support services like public safety and emergency services.
“Technology is the key to innovation and growth in our economy and all Marylanders –regardless of where they live – should have access to the tools they need to succeed,” said Senator Cardin. “Schools, businesses and support services in Garrett County will be able to provide residents with improved services thanks to the increased broadband Internet access that this grant will help provide.”
“In today’s global marketplace, broadband is what connects U.S. communities and businesses to each other and to the world,” Senator Mikulski said. “This grant will help communities in Garrett County determine how to best connect to the information superhighway, which will bring new jobs and opportunity to communities and small businesses in Western Maryland.”
The new ARC funding will help Garrett County determine how to leverage a new 50-mile fiber backbone, or a fiber optic cable system, so that it can increase broadband availability throughout the county. Garrett County received funding for the fiber backbone from a 2010 Recovery Act grant awarded to Maryland to increase broadband access throughout the state. The county hopes to maximize the impact of every dollar spent.
In addition to the ARC grants, Garrett County will provide more than $50,000 for the study, bringing total funding to $100,000. The ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life.