OLYMPIA – The Washington State Public Works Board announced nearly $18 million in grants and loans for seven broadband construction projects in unserved communities across the state.

Applicants requested more than $73 million for 29 different projects, and the board approved qualified projects from a rated and ranked list until all available program funds were exhausted. Demand exceeded available funds by more than 300%.

Public Works Board Chair Hutsell said, “This was the Public Works Board’s inaugural broadband construction funding cycle, and it certainly will not be our last. The need for statewide connectivity is real and immediate. Communities statewide deserve reliable and affordable access to high-speed broadband services that meet or exceed state standards for all residents, businesses and institutions. With infrastructure being the backbone of economic recovery, the Board looks forward to continuing to be a resource for communities across the state.”

Projects awarded funding at the Oct. 23 board meeting are:

“Completing homework, filing important forms, visiting with the doctor, ordering groceries and prescriptions – the COVID pandemic has made it abundantly clear that high-speed internet service is the critical lifeline for our most basic daily interactions,” said Washington Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Bridging the ‘digital divide’ is essential to strengthen communities and ensure an equitable economic recovery throughout Washington state. These investments by the Public Works Board are another step toward our goal to provide every community, and ultimately every household, with access to reliable and affordable broadband service.”

Funding announced today is part of the 2019 State Legislature’s $21 million public infrastructure investment to connect communities with little or no reliable, affordable broadband service. To learn more about current efforts to map access, affordability and internet speeds throughout the state, provide free drive-up community Wi-Fi spots, and more, visit the Washington Broadband Office website at www.broadband.wa.gov.

Visit the Public Works Board webpage for more information on the board and its programs.