The Western Nebraska Economic Development group Thursday voted in favor of allowing the organization to be used as an umbrella entity for grant applications for internet connectivity available through the federal CARES act funding being administered by the State.
$40 million out the $1.25 billion from the federal government given to Nebraska will be available through a rural broadband remote access grant program.
Michelle Coolidge with Twin Cities Development brought forward the item, saying it would give communities more options as service providers begin to reach out to communities about applying for the grants. “It’s not obligating any of those communities to operate that way, they can do it differently, choose to do their own and not be a part of a WNED application,” said Coolidge. “I just want that option out there so communities can decide and move forward.”
Coolidge said WNED has acted as an umbrella applicant for member grants before, most notably for a housing opportunities grant, and while it’s not known if the program will allow consolidation of community applications, it would be good for the group to have the ability to do so in place ahead of time.
The panel voting in the affirmative to allow the organization to be used in such a manner if member communities so choose.