ALTOONA — Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission said Tuesday it has been awarded $50,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to complete an eight-county assessment of broadband infrastructure in the region.

Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Huntingdon, Somerset and Westmoreland counties partnered on thie project and are providing $50,000 in matching funds, the commission said in a news release.

Brandon Carson, director of Planning and Community Development at Southern Alleghenies, has been working on this effort with representatives from the region for nearly a year, according to the news release.

“We’re excited to collaborate with ARC and our eight-county Broadband Task Force to begin to address the lack of broadband connectivity in the region,” Carson said. “This study will arm us with the information needed to implement meaningful solutions that will provide residents and businesses in the region with better access to reliable broadband services.”

The regional project is one of 54 investments totaling $44.4 million via ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, a congressionally-funded opportunity targeting federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.

The Regional Broadband Task Force released a request for proposal for individuals or businesses to submit proposals for the eight-county study.

The RFP will be out for bid until Oct. 31 and is available on Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development’s website. Final completion of the study is expected in July of next year.

For more information, contact Stacy LoCastro, grants coordinator, at slocastro@sapdc.org.

For more about the program, visit www.sapdc.org/broadband_task_force

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