$3.3M in funding awarded to Washington counties aiming to modernize, expand internet access

Washington's Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) announced $3.3 million to support infrastructure, economy and broadband internet development in Western Washington.

The funding is made up of $2.4 million in grants and $843,750 in low-interest loans, with the aim of spurring business growth and job creation, along with improving the internet infrastructure needed to keep up with it. Money has been awarded to King, Whatcom, Cowlitz and Grays Harbor counties.

Federal Way will receive a $50,000 grant for a broadband planning study. CERB says the project is a ‘feasibility study’ to assess the potential for a high-speed fiber internet connection in the city. According to the board, the $25,000 they provided was matched by American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The Public Utility District No. 1 of Whatcom County will also receive $50,000 for a similar study, with CERB funds matched by $12,500 in local resources.

Additionally, the Port of Bellingham will receive a $2 million grant from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund for a rural broadband project. The goal of this project is to put down 47 miles of fiber internet connection in northern Whatcom County, right along the Canadian border. CERB anticipates this will create 240 connections with internet speeds up to 300 Mbps—more than enough to stream TV shows and play online games. Funds were matched by $1 million in local resources.

The Port of Woodland will receive the $843,750 loan and $281,250 in grant funding to construct the first building in the ‘Rose Way Industrial Park.’ The 15,000-square-foot building project includes earthwork, grading, utilities, parking, curbs and sidewalks. Officials expect this project will create 40 jobs paying above the county median wage. CERB funds were matched by $1.3 million in local resources.

Lastly, the Port of Grays Harbor will receive $50,000 to modernize the the moorage infrastructure of the Westport Marina. CERB funds were matched by $30,000 in local resources.

"CERB’s role is to be responsive to local needs by making timely and smart investment decisions," said CERB Chair Randy Hayden. "The board is pleased to collaborate with each of these communities to plan for future private sector jobs and broadband connectivity for Washington families."

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