December 10, 2022

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Montana extends application deadline for broadband grants

HELENA — Montana has invited companies to occur ahead with proposals for increasing broadband to underserved rural and suburban regions. Now, the very first suggestions on how to use extra than $200 million in federal grants could come in just around three months.

A state advisory fee heard updates Thursday on the method to award the first round of broadband grants, funded through the American Rescue Program Act.

The state’s first deadline for companies to use was April 8, but leaders extended that application window to April 29, because of robust demand and the amount of money of information and facts necessary.

Chad Rupe, the state’s broadband system manager, said they are informed of about 54 potential initiatives from far more than 20 companies, but only three have been officially submitted so much.

“We just never know the whole volume of dollars which is being requested nonetheless, until finally they basically hit the post button,” he claimed. “We really do not know inside of of individuals applications that are becoming labored on specifically what is getting requested and from whom.”

Leaders stated the applications would all be built community a single 7 days right after the deadline. Just after that, candidates can challenge other bidders if they consider their proposals provide regions that currently have enough broadband company. The state will take care of people troubles by the close of June.

By early July, Rupe and his group will rank the proposals centered on a position system. Candidates can get details for supplying higher speeds to far more consumers, careers they develop, acquiring the job accomplished more rapidly, and building the company obtainable to very low- and reasonable-revenue homes.

The commission will then make recommendations on which initiatives ought to obtain funding. Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office environment will have the final say.

Also during the meeting, the fee talked about doable accountability steps to make positive organizations that get grants full their perform. Rupe originally proposed keeping again some of the grant funding until finally the assignments are finished, but reported the point out was keen to fall that need in reaction to public remarks. Instead, they’ll try to get funding back again from businesses that don’t comply.

In the course of the conference, some corporations fascinated in applying explained they apprehensive they could face unexpected delays, owing to inflation, growing task charges and source chain challenges.

You can discover much more information and facts about the broadband grant application on the ConnectMT site.