WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, together with U.S. Representative John Delaney (all D-Md.), today announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded the Allegany County Board of Education $110,000 to extend the One Maryland Broadband Network to additional sites in Cumberland, Md. In addition to ARC funds, the Allegany County Board of Education will provide $55,000 and the City of Cumberland will provide $55,000, bringing the total project funding to $220,000.
“Internet access is no longer a luxury item, and this grant will help deliver to Western Maryland the level of service necessary in today’s high-tech educational and economic sectors,” said Senator Cardin, who introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize funding for ARC. “Team Maryland has made great strides in ensuring that the benefits of high-speed internet access are available to everyone, regardless of zip-code. This federal investment will help the Allegany County Board of Education better serve students and bring 21st century jobs to downtown Cumberland. I look forward to seeking and supporting more opportunities to break down the digital divides that persist in Maryland. ”
“Education is the opportunity ladder of this nation. Every child deserves their chance to climb that ladder,” said Senator Mikulski, a senior member of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “Connecting Western Maryland schools with our state’s broadband infrastructure is about preparing kids today for jobs tomorrow. These funds in the federal checkbook will ensure our students in the City of Cumberland have the tools they need to succeed. With the One Maryland Broadband Network, we are one digital Maryland, bringing ideas, opportunity, and jobs to every single county in Maryland.
“Expanding high-speed internet access will help local students and improve the business climate in Allegany County,” said Congressman Delaney. “High-speed internet is absolutely fundamental to economic growth and if we get the details right, we can build on Western Maryland’s strengths to create jobs. Closing the digital gap will help put Allegany County students and entrepreneurs on a level playing field. Creating new broadband access is a key component of my Western Maryland Agenda and I am pleased to see that we have federal and local cooperation on this critical issue.”
The Allegany County Board of Education Facilities and Maintenance building will have fiber-optic infrastructure run to the facility. The same infrastructure will also be developed in downtown Cumberland to be used by internet service providers to deliver high speed bandwidth to businesses in the downtown area. Approximately 40 existing businesses will benefit from access to broadband. The availability of high speed broadband will increase the attractiveness of the area to businesses.
The ARC is a key partner in maximizing federal, state, and local resources to promote economic development in Western Maryland and throughout the region.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski have been leading supporters of the ARC Commission in the U.S. Senate. In recognition of his support of regional economic development and the ARC, Senator Cardin received the 2012 Congressional Award from the Development District Association of Appalachia. Congressman Delaney has been an outspoken advocate in the effort to bring reliable high-speed broadband internet access to underserved communities in Western Maryland.
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