Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced Ben Lomand Connect as a recipient of a $179,695.56 grant for underserved areas of Coffee and Warren Counties.
This is a matching grant with Ben Lomand contributing an additional $189,695.56 for a total investment of $369,391.12 for the county. The grant area is in northeastern Coffee County and includes 22 locations (12 residences and 10 businesses). It runs along State Highway 55 from southwestern Warren County into Coffee County. Funding will be available in April of 2021, allowing for infrastructure to be built and a two-year completion date.
Greg Smartt, General Manager and CEO for Ben Lomand Connect, commented, “Ben Lomand Connect is honored to receive this grant award. It is the fourth grant we have received for Coffee County, which has included two in Pocahontas and one in Normandy. This speaks to the tremendous need for high speed connections in Coffee County and throughout the state. This grant will fill a large gap where fiber service is not available. Access to high-speed broadband will provide economic, healthcare, public safety, and educational opportunities that residents currently do not have access to and contribute to a better quality of life. ”
A total of $14.9 million in broadband accessibility grants were awarded in 15 rural counties that will expand service to support 17,800 unserved Tennesseans in nearly 7,120 households and businesses. The 15 grant recipients, including Ben Lomand Connect, demonstrated a high need for grant funding as well as the ability to implement and sustain the projects in the long-term with strong community support.
“As many of us have transitioned to a lifestyle of working, telecommuting, and learning from home, we have seen how much we rely on broadband, and those who do not have access are placed at a significant disadvantage,” Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “With the support of Governor Lee and the General Assembly, we will be able to connect more than 7,000 previously unserved homes and businesses to broadband service, positioning rural Tennessee for future success.”
Ben Lomand Connect was incorporated on October 2, 1952, to provide local telephone service to rural middle Tennessee. Ben Lomand began its diversification in 1993 by forming BLC, a wholly-owned long distance subsidiary. It was the first competitive local exchange carrier in the state of Tennessee. Combined, the two have over 25,000 access lines covering 3,200 square miles of territory. Ben Lomand Connect also offers many other services, including broadband, video, security, hosted IP solutions, and managed IT services