Broadband project gets funding

Published 4:10 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

The Cumberland County Board of Supervisors has agreed to commit up to $200,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward a Kinex Telecom, Inc. broadband project that could provide service to thousands of households and hundreds of businesses.

At a Tuesday, Sept. 14, Board of Supervisors meeting, Cumberland County Finance Director Jennifer Crews addressed the Board regarding a broadband project by Kinex Telecom, Inc.

Crews told supervisors that Kinex has been awarded a contract through RDOF (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) to provide broadband to underserved areas without 25 Mbps download speeds for internet service.

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The project, which is expected to cost $25,292,385, is slated to provide broadband fiber buildout for areas in Cumberland, Prince Edward and Lunenburg counties.

According to Tuesday night’s meeting packet, the funding for the project includes:

$9,975,490 in FCC grants already awarded to Kinex

A $6,000,000 SBA 15-year loan already approved for Kinex 

$6,316,895 in project funding from Kinex 

$15,000,000 from a Virginia Telecommunication Initiative grant, if awarded

$4,000,000 from a pending request to the Tobacco Commission

In addition to the above funding, a match contribution has been requested from each county in the amount of $1,185,000 for Cumberland, $1,651,500 for Lunenburg and $2,153,500 for Prince Edward.

On Tuesday, Prince Edward County and Kinex submitted a grant application to the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative for $15 million in funding toward the project. Crews noted the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) assisted with the grant, and letters of support for the broadband fiber buildout were provided to CRC.

According to the meeting packet, the project is anticipated to extend service for 244 miles in Cumberland County, providing service to approximately 1,800 homes and 165 businesses county-wide.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Crews notified supervisors that as a part of the grant application, counties were asked to commit a portion of funds. Staff recommended the Board commit up to $200,000 of ARPA funds for the project.

A motion was made by District 4 Supervisor Gene Brooks and seconded by District 3 Supervisor and Board Vice Chair Eurika Tyree to approve the project. The vote passed 4-1 with only District 2 Supervisor Ron Tavernier voting no.

As of press time, Tavernier did not respond to a request for comment regarding why he voted against the motion. District 1 Supervisor and Board Chair Brian Stanley did not respond by press time to a request for comment on additional information surrounding the project.