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Capito, Manchin announce $728K fed grant to create statewide digital equity plan

MORGANTOWN — Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, both members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced $728,065 from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for the development of a statewide digital equity plan in West Virginia.

The funding was made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and will be used to engage local communities and develop projects to promote the full participation of all West Virginians in today’s digital economy, they said.

The funding will use community outreach, stakeholder engagement and data collection and analysis to design a statewide plan to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved populations across West Virginia. Upon completion of the State Digital Equity Plan, West Virginia will be eligible to receive additional funds through the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program to carry out its planned activities to boost digital equity and inclusion.

Manchin commented, “Access to affordable, reliable broadband is vital to the success and growth of our communities across West Virginia. … Getting online isn’t just about connecting every house. It’s also important to help elderly citizens access telehealth appointments, assist small business owners setting up an online presence and provide additional tools so that all West Virginians can succeed with high-speed internet.”

Capito commented, “Bringing high-speed, reliable broadband access to our homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses in West Virginia has always been a top priority. … This funding will assist in our efforts to provide communities with the resources they need to strategize and develop a plan to connect our residents to the digital economy. The future of West Virginia depends on our ability to close the digital divide, and this funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law will help in this effort.”

TWEET @DominionPostWV