New North Inc., the regional economic development corporation serving Northeast Wisconsin, will receive a $500,000 EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to conduct a broadband gap analysis for the 18 counties of the New North region. The grant was announced Thursday by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo on behalf of the department’s Economic Development Administration.
CARES Act Recovery grants are funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.
“As we continue to focus on our state’s economic recovery, these critical EDA investments will help ensure our families, communities and industries in Northeast Wisconsin are in the best position to bounce back from the pandemic and better,” said Gov. Tony Evers.
The EDA grant will be utilized for regional broadband data analysis, mapping and cost modeling for each county in the region, according to Barb LaMue, president and CEO of New North Inc. She additionally shared that once completed, the study will develop a process to identify solutions, which will help the New North region attract and retain businesses and jobs, spurring private investment and advancing economic resiliency.
“We are grateful to be receiving these funds in the near future,” said LaMue. “We realize the necessity to make sure all parts of our region have affordable broadband access. As broadband expenditures are part of the continuing American Rescue Plan Act, it is our intention to work with all 18 counties in our region to map deficiencies and identify solutions, thus making it more compelling for actual implementation funding to be the next logical step.”
The project will be matched with $125,000 in local funds. Contributing are the Outagamie County Development & Land Services Department and the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, comprised of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
Also announced Thursday was a $3.9 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the city of Marinette. The grant’s purpose is road and utility upgrades to support its shipbuilding industry, as well as to develop additional nearby city-owned industrial property for new and expanding businesses.