Rural internet set to improve? Commissioners approve GREAT grant for fiber optic internet

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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Project will bring broadband internet to 3,500 homes in Polk


COLUMBUS – At its Monday meeting, the Polk County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the Growing Rural Economic with Access to Technology (GREAT) grant, expanding Polk County’s access to fiber-optic broadband internet.

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The GREAT grant will reach unserviced areas in the northern and western sections of Polk that the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund has not covered. The project will bring fiber optic broadband internet access to roughly 3,500 homes. 

County Manager Marche Pittman emphasized the impact this would have on broadband services in rural parts of the county.

“It’s the most movement I’ve seen on broadband [that] I’ve seen in 10 years of being a county manager,” said Pittman.

The three-party contract dictates that Polk County isn’t required to keep track of the process and make sure it’s being completed on task, but must sign on as a third party, as it is a political subdivision of the state of North Carolina. The contract was delivered to Polk by the North Carolina Department of Information Technology several weeks ago for review.

Roughly $12 million is being invested into broadband in Polk County, with $4 million in state funding, and Spectrum and Charter investments totaling $8 million. Polk County leveraged $250,000 into the project.

“I’m excited about this broadband grant. I’m really excited to see that moving ahead,” said Polk County Commissioner Myron Yoder.