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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Rural Connect Program Receives $100M Program eligibility expanded to bring broadband to rural areas

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Commerce today announced that all companies, including electric cooperatives and their subsidiaries, capable of deploying broadband to rural Arkansas are now eligible to apply for an Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) grant. The Arkansas Legislative Council executive subcommittee approved the change outlined in a supplemental emergency ARC rule this week. The approved rule also gives further flexibility to the threshold that requires 500 population and retail customers.

“Now more than ever we see the need to fully connect Arkansas and eliminate the digital divide,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “I’m appreciative of the Arkansas Legislature for passing rules this week that will remove barriers and allow more flexibility for grant applicants.”

The ARC grant program had previously received $25 million in state and CARES Act funding. In August the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas Legislature approved an additional $100-million for the program to deploy broadband in rural Arkansas.

“I’m delighted to see how well communities have responded to the ARC program,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “The additional funding will make a tremendous impact and allow for telemedicine access, distance learning, and telework in our state.”

The department is currently evaluating applications with a focus on projects that can deploy broadband to qualified areas before December 30th. To view the approved supplemental emergency rules and to apply for an ARC grant, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov.

Arkansas Rural Connect award recipients as of September 3rd are listed below.

Fairfield Bay & Arkansas Telephone Company $1,568,750.25

Ozark & Pinnacle Communications $1,909,265

Lonoke & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000

Nashville & Premier Holdings $448,580.30

Cave City & Hillbilly Wireless $803,762

Magazine & Magazine Telephone Company $1,026,692

Cotton Plant & Hillbilly Wireless $497,001

Hamburg & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000

Earle & Comcast $1,807,002

Hazen & Aristotle Unified Communications $1,900,000

Donaldson & Central Arkansas Telephone Company $1,191,000

Crossett & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000

Carlisle & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000

Palestine & East Arkansas Video $927,000

Emmet & Hope Community TV $193,000

Center Point & Premier Holdings $714,495

Diamondhead & Resort TV Cable Company $601,000

Saline County & Aristotle Unified Communications $2,962,530

Montgomery County & Windstream $1,645,530

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