On Monday, Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker signed the second of two grant agreements which provide funding for additional broadband access for 4,061 Faulkner County homes and businesses.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission awarded two grants in the county totaling $13,401,845.
One grant in the amount of $5,817,677 was awarded to The Computer Works to provide high-speed internet to approximately 2,000 homes situated in the Preston and Gold Creek neighborhoods north of Mayflower, as well as homes near Highway 89 west of Mayflower.
A second grant in the amount of $7,584,168 was awarded to Windstream to provide high-speed internet to approximately 2,061 homes south, east and north of Vilonia, as well as areas near Naylor and Enola.
“This is a momentous day in Faulkner County,” Judge Baker said. “We are committed to helping our citizens get faster, more reliable internet. These grants allow thousands of homes in our rural areas within the county the ability to access high-speed internet for the first time.”
The funds were distributed by the Arkansas Department of Commerce through disbursements received from the federal American Rescue Plan.
“Internet access is a vital part of a county’s infrastructure,” Judge Baker said. “Internet access gives employees the ability to work from home. It allows children the ability to work on school assignments. Faster internet allows our citizens to receive medical care, stay in touch with family, and receive vital communication. Better internet access is one of the reasons Faulkner County continues to be a leading county in the state.”
The current proposed projects will provide internet speeds up to 1 gigabyte upload and 1 gigabyte download for consumers and small businesses.
“The pandemic has highlighted our county’s reliance on internet,” Judge Baker said. “Extending internet connectivity to rural parts of the county will have positive social and economic effects. This is a great example of the public sector working in conjunction with the private sector to provide better resources for our citizens.”
Faulkner County is actively seeking additional partnerships to further broadband connections throughout the county.
“We’re not done yet,” Judge Baker said. “There’s plenty of work to do and plenty of people we need to reach. We hope to continue to partner with the ARC program in the future, but we may also need to use our funds we’ve received through the Rescue Plan to help fund some initiatives.”