Broadband grant will boost our area’s economic future

Published 12:32 am Saturday, August 21, 2010

Putting rural South Alabama on the information highway is the goal of a $26 million federal grant recently secured by Troy Cable and its civic partners.

The grant– part of the 2009 economic stimulus package – will provide funding for construction of a nearly 600-mile fiberoptic network through Pike, Crenshaw, Coffee and Dale counties.

Proponents of the effort say the network will bring broadband internet to a largely underserved region of our state, and in turn enhance economic development opportunities for all.

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And although it took the much-berated and arguably ineffective stimulus package to provide the funding for this project, in the long run the benefits to our region far outweigh the politics behind the grant.

For some folks, this program will simply bring high-speed Internet access to areas which previously have not been able to benefit from that.

But it will do much more. With more than 145 jobs to be created during the three-year grant phase, this program will provide an immediate and tangible boost to our economy.

More importantly, the long-term impact of having this sophisticated access to the Internet and broadband communications could prove invaluable. Combined with an already impressive package of economic development offerings, this access elevates our region above its peers. With the coming of CGI to Troy earlier this year, our community opened the door to what could be its future as a hub for 21st century businesses and industry. The access provided by this network serves only to boost that future potential.

So bring on the broadband … South Alabama is ready for growth.