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Northam announces new fund to expand broadband

Governor Ralph Northam today announced the collective pledge of more than $1.5 million by the Cameron Foundation, Dominion Energy, Facebook and Primis Bank to expand broadband access to underserved locations across the commonwealth. The funding will further the ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide for the approximately 233,000 locations in Virginia that lack access to broadband.

“These investments will play a vital role in connecting thousands across the commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “We are thrilled to see the private and philanthropic sectors recognizing the need for broadband access and stepping up to support getting as many Virginians connected as soon as possible. With these investments, our goal of universal broadband by 2024 is even closer.”

Earlier this year, Governor Northam announced a record number of local and private sector funds to match the state’s contribution. In total, Virginia has generated $2 billion in funding to close the digital divide by 2024. The historic investment was aided by $700 million from American Rescue Plan Funding.

Since 2017, the Commonwealth has deployed over $124 million in grant funds to connect over 140,895 homes and businesses, more than halving the digital divide in broadband access. Many of the least connected localities are also the least affluent in Virginia, and without resources, they struggle to compete. These pledges by the Cameron Foundation, Dominion Energy, Facebook and Primis Bank will further connectivity solutions for some of the most fiscally-distressed localities in the commonwealth.

“It is rewarding to see others stepping up to assist expanding broadband access,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This administration has made significant progress in reaching Virginians with broadband access, and these investments from the Cameron Foundation, Facebook, Primis Bank and Dominion Energy will help to further that mission.”

The Cameron Foundation has pledged $1.15 million to support broadband expansion in Sussex and Dinwiddie counties. Facebook’s $250,000 and Primis Bank’s $200,000 pledge will further broadband expansion in communities across Virginia, and with a significant contribution from Dominion Energy, these organizations will assist less-resourced communities to achieve universal access to broadband.

Pledgers to the Commonwealth Connect Fund will deliver funding directly to local governments or governments of their choice with planned broadband expansion efforts. Those interested in pledging to the Commonwealth Connect Fund should contact the Governor’s Broadband Team at commonwealthconnect@governor.virginia.gov.