Updated: Jun 8, 2022
Georgia Economic news just got a whole lot better. The Peach State is bringing $408 million dollars in federal funding to expand internet access to over 180,000 homes across rural GA by the year 2026.
Georgia is off to a great start in 2022, and not just because the home town Bulldogs are National Champions. The recently passed American Rescue Plan is making even bigger news across The Peach State by bringing $408 million dollars in federal funding to expand internet access to over 180,000 homes across rural GA by the year 2026. This massive project will connect more than a quarter of the state’s areas that currently do not have internet access.
How This Expansion Is Funded
For years Georgia state officials have been discussing internet expansion in order to boost economic activity and education across the state. The American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief funding finally gives officials the resources to do so.
Tuesday, state officials publicly stated “The $408 million in COVID-19 relief money will fund internet expansion projects in 70 counties where residents have little or no options for internet service, a necessity for business, health and education.” The $408 Million will utilize roughly 10% of Georgia’s total $4.8 Billion Budget allotted by the federal government designed for Covid-19 relief.
The investment will be spent through a competitive application process that welcomes Georgia businesses to apply. Matching funds though other grant programs will ultimately bring the total investment in Rural Broadband to over $738 million.
Who Will Get Internet
Early in the pandemic, gaps in internet access were exposed across the state, hurting the economy. In some parts of west Georgia, residents have had to conduct their businesses from Wi-Fi hotspots at local schools, libraries, and even McDonald’s because they could not connect from their homes or businesses, showcasing just how important rural internet access is for the future.
This investment by the state of Georgia will connect over 180,000 homes and businesses across 70 counties by the year 2026.
(You can find a map of Broadband Availability across the state here)
What Does Internet Access Mean for Georgia?
Three words describe the impact of this massive investment: jobs, jobs, jobs.
First, Georgians can expect a massive hiring spree for blue collar jobs as broadband infrastructure will have to be laid across the state. Because there are areas in nearly every corner of the state that need better broadband, these jobs will be available in nearly every town.
Second, a boost in the internet means better business. And better business means better jobs. Over 507,000 homes and businesses, 10% of the state, lack access to sufficient internet speeds (see map link above). With better connectivity, these businesses can operate more efficiently and meet the ever-increasing need to sell their goods and services online.
Third, better internet connectivity means more job opportunities for our children. Over the last few decades, small towns across the country have seen countless young adults move to bigger cities in search for better jobs and better pay. However, that is starting to change. As the pandemic shut down many “in-person” jobs, most companies moved to remote, or online, work. As rural areas across Georgia improve their access to broadband internet, those high-paying city jobs will now be available to young adults.
The American Rescue Plan will bring high-speed internet directly to the homes of thousands of Georgia families. And that means better jobs and better education.