St. Croix County is one of six Wisconsin communities selected to join a pilot program to help apply for broadband expansion funds, Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday, Oct. 15.
“As families, business owners, and communities across the state continue to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for affordable, accessible high-speed broadband is perhaps more important now than ever,” Evers said in a news release. “This joint program will provide critical support and resources to help local communities get connected.”
The joint Broadband Connectors Pilot Program by the Public Service Commission and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will provide technical assistance in applying for funds through federal, state and private sector sources, the news release states.
The program received 96 applications statewide. The six communities selected for the cohort are:
- Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
- Ho-Chunk Nation
- School District of Owen-Withee
- Town of Cross
- St Croix County
- Fond du Lac County
“Such a tremendous response demonstrates that there is a strong desire to apply for state and federal broadband funding, but the challenge for many communities is a lack of resources to participate,” PSC Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq said. “This pilot program shows promise to push through that barrier, allowing communities to take steps to connect their residents more quickly.”
According to the news release:
"The pilot program is intended to help WEDC and PSC to better understand what communities’ broadband technical assistance needs are. Drawing on the expertise of both WEDC and PSC staff, the best practices developed from the pilot program will be incorporated into a Wisconsin Broadband Playbook for communities.
"Through participation in the pilot cohort, WEDC and PSC intent to increase communities’ readiness to apply for state, federal, or private broadband opportunities, and provide them with a roadmap for continuing its work to expand broadband after the pilot ends."