Money will support Broadband and Technology Education Center on the Big Sandy Community and Technical College campus
SOMERSET, Ky. (Oct. 14, 2015) — Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl today announced $1 million in grants to strengthen Kentucky’s effort to expand high-speed broadband to every corner of the state, starting in Eastern Kentucky.
The funding will support the construction of a $4.5 million telecommunications training facility to house the Broadband and Technology Education Center on the Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) Pikeville campus.
Beshear committed $500,000 in a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Gohl pledged $500,000 through an ARC grant. The presentation was part of the ARC Annual Conference Meeting in Somerset this week.
Working in partnership with the University of Pikeville (UPIKE) and the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), the BSCTC Broadband and Technology Education Center will house the Kentucky Regional Telecommunications Installation and Maintenance Training Program, and will serve as a hub of broadband education and training in the southeastern region of the United States.
The project is additionally funded by a $2.2 million grant from the federal Economic Development Agency announced last week, and $1.2 million from BSCTC.
The grants announced today are capitalizing on the major KentuckyWired infrastructure investment and the bi-partisan efforts to diversify eastern Kentucky’s economy through the SOAR initiative.
With construction beginning on the high-speed, high-capacity broadband network, KentuckyWired or the I-Way in eastern Kentucky, the demand for certified technicians in telecommunications installation and maintenance is already evident as telecommunications providers look to the future.
“We have hard working people in Eastern Kentucky who have been hit hard by a huge decline in coal jobs in recent years,” said Beshear. “BSCTC sees the need for eastern Kentuckians to train for jobs of the future and this training will support the building and maintenance of the KentuckyWired broadband network.”
Kentucky has entered into a public-private partnership (P3) to finance, build, operate and maintain the network for 30 years. This partnership with Macquarie Capital allows the middle-mile project to begin sooner and be completed in three years, and it provides for maintenance and refresh of the network over the contract. The private partners have a target for hiring Kentuckians.
KentuckyWired is starting in eastern Kentucky and over the next three years will spread throughout the state.
KentuckyWired will break down geographic and financial barriers to education and economic development by providing affordable, high-quality Internet service to connect Kentuckians to the world.
The potential to tap into the global economy, compete for higher paying jobs, collaborate with researchers across the globe, take classes online, or access increased medical care makes KentuckyWired one of the most important infrastructure projects for all of Kentucky.