Rockbridge County Applies for DHCD 2024 VATI Program Funding

Rockbridge County leadership submitted three grant applications for the 2024 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) program on December 19, 2023. The main focus of the VATI grants is to provide financial assistance towards service provider construction costs for projects that extend broadband to areas presently identified as unserved or underserved. These broadband expansion projects are done in partnership with local units of government.

To gain optimal value and economies of scale on their planned efforts, Rockbridge County teamed with BARC Connects (electric co-op), Brightspeed (broadband provider), and Verizon (broadband provider) to submit grant applications for the current round of VATI funding. This synchronized approach to effectively connect the region’s residents and businesses to broadband will provide for an efficient and cost-effective deployment of fiber-to-the-premises in remote and hard-to-reach areas in Rockbridge County. A concise summary of each project application is provided below.

The Rockbridge County and BARC Connects application consists of three projects providing high-speed internet to 404 premises located in remote areas with difficult topography in central and western portions of the county. The total estimated project budget is $2,988,568. Rockbridge County is requesting $1,255,199 (42%) in VATI funding with BARC and Rockbridge County providing $1,733,369 (58%)in matching funds.

The Rockbridge County and Brightspeed grant submission consists of one project providing high-speed internet to 1,734 premises located in isolated stretches with challenging geography in central, northwestern, and southeastern areas of the county. The anticipated project cost is $5,914,332. Rockbridge County is seeking $975,865 (17%) through the VATI program. Brightspeed and Rockbridge County plan to provide a combined $4,938,467 (83%) in matching funds.

The Rockbridge County and Verizon application consists of one project providing broadband to 85 locations/101 premises in a rural area of northeastern Rockbridge County with particularly difficult topography. The total estimated budget is $2,429,768. Rockbridge County is requesting $896,587 (37%) in grant funding. Verizon and Rockbridge County plan to provide $1,533,183 (63%) in matching funds.

The total combined 2024 VATI funding requested for the three projects equals $3,127,651. The CSPDC will provide grant administrative services for Rockbridge County should they garner funding awards on these VATI grant applications. Rockbridge County also plans to support applications for the upcoming Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant program funds and Line Extension Customer Assistance Program (LECAP) opportunities in 2024 to achieve universal broadband coverage in the County.

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