Merski, Harkins: $50,000 awarded to fund Erie County broadband expansion study
Will identify coverage gaps, develop expansion plan
ERIE, Oct. 17 – A $50,000 grant will fund a broadband expansion feasibility study to help Erie identify coverage gaps and develop ways to expand internet to address those gaps, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today.
The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the Erie Area Council of Governments will contract with an expert to perform the study and with the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development to provide economic impact data and Geographic Information System services.
“I’m encouraged that we have funding in place to study which areas of the county are still facing unreliable internet access,” Merski said. “Even as access has improved in many places, residents and business owners in the eastern and southern parts of the county have continued to struggle with spotty coverage and access. It’s critical for us to pinpoint where strong connections are lacking so they can be brought up to speed.”
“Fast, reliable internet isn’t a luxury – it’s an essential connection that opens doors to jobs, education, and community connections,” Harkins said. “We need to make sure all those connections are in place so communities have the access they need.”
The project will serve 16 communities over the course of a year.
The funding is part of a package awarded under the Appalachian Regional Commission, Power Initiative Grants. More information on the funding is available here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-announces-6-9-million-to-support-economic-development-opportunities-of-pennsylvanias-coal-impacted-communities/.
ARC’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization Initiative seeks to diversify economies in communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of energy production.