TELLURIDE, Colo. (Oct. 17, 2017) – The Telluride Foundation learned last week that it is the recipient of a $760,025 grant award from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The EDA awarded a total of $30 million to support 35 projects in 15 states. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s announcement, “The funding will assist local-driven efforts in communities and regions severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.”
The grant funds will be used for the Telluride Foundation’s Community Broadband Project that has been underway since 2014. Specifically, this grant will help pay for a new fiber optic line for open commercial internet use between Nucla and Norwood. The exact details regarding the route of this new fiber is still in discussion, but will pass through predominantly public right-of-way.
“This is tremendous news for our community,” said Paul Major, President and CEO of the Telluride Foundation. “We will be working with all regional partners to ensure the construction process is efficient, mutually beneficial, and as fast as possible,”
Ultimately, the EDA’s grant to fund broadband connectivity in this region is directly related to its mission to improve economic development in economically-distressed regions. This EDA-funded project is part of a regional plan, which includes additional funding from state and federal sources to connect schools, libraries and local businesses to high-speed broadband. By connecting the west ends of Montrose and San Miguel counties to high-speed, reliable, open access broadband service, the doors will open to entrepreneurial pursuits, current companies expanding or improving their operations, and remote workers choosing to live here and take advantage of our rural quality of life. Additionally, local schools, libraries, medical centers, and emergency services will finally have the internet access they require to keep up with 21st century needs, opportunities, and capabilities.
Organizations like the Uncompahgre Medical Center and Lone Cone Public Library in Norwood are community hubs and key economic drivers; these organizations create jobs, provide critical services and programs, and improve the quality of life of the community. For Scott Bookman, Executive Director of the Uncompahgre Medical Center, “Broadband is as important as electricity in terms of being able to provide quality care. As a geographically-isolated frontier Federally Qualified Health Center, the Medical Center relies on fast and reliable internet service to access medical records and to communicate with specialists in Montrose and Grand Junction. Without broadband services our patients and our community will not have access to the highest level of medical care possible.”
According to Carrie Andrew, Norwood Public Library Director, internet has been integral to programs and services at the Library and has even supported the tourism industry in Norwood. “For years, the library has been struggling to attain internet service to meet the needs of our staff and patrons. Our internet was used approximately 16,000 times last year; however, we are currently limited by the existing service providers and the capacity of their infrastructure. To have live fiber coming in to Norwood will greatly diversify our options and improve productivity with increased speeds and reliability,” Andrew stated.
The mission of the EDA is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.
The Telluride Foundation is committed to enriching the quality of life of the residents, workforce, and visitors of the Telluride region. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that makes grants and runs programs in arts, education, health and human services, community development, and social enterprises. The Foundation strives to achieve excellence for the community through its mission and core values of inclusion, self-reliance, and innovation. Our work is funded through the generous support of hundreds of donors as well as grants from state and national foundations. Pease visit www.telluridefoundation.org.