The Working Waterfront

Broadband funded awarded to coastal communities

Digital inclusion efforts part of delivery of programs

Posted 2023-05-16
Last Modified 2023-05-16

The Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) has made 26 awards totaling more than $4 million in funding and support to community, regional, and tribal organizations.

These initiatives will support community-driven broadband solutions that ensure universal connectivity, strengthen, and grow the number of partners thinking about digital equity and inclusion, and create increased alignment and coordination between communities, regions, and the state. Both programs are funded by the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program and are part of MCA’s All-In program that will bring high-speed broadband to over 30,000 homes and businesses in rural and remote areas.

The Regional & Tribal Broadband Partners Program will help deploy and sustain the benefits of broadband infrastructure investment in all state regions. Each partner will build and lead digital inclusion efforts in each of their regions and tribes while also providing support for community and regional-scale broadband infrastructure solutions and investments.

Among the award recipients in Maine’s coastal regions are:

• Four Directions Development Corporation ($250,000)
• Greater Franklin Development Council ($215,743)
• Greater Portland Council of Governments ($250,000)
• GrowSmart Maine ($183,400)
• Island Institute ($250,000)
• Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission ($234,420)
• Northern Forest Center ($246,081)
• Northern Maine Development Corporation ($250,000)
• Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission ($249,567)
• Somerset Economic Development ($209,500)
• Sunrise County Economic Council ($203,373)

“Investing in staffing and capacity to support broadband and digital inclusion will ensure that the true impact of this generational investment in universal connectivity will be felt by all people and communities in Maine,” said Maggie Drummond-Bahl, MCA’s strategic partnership director.

These initiatives will support community-driven broadband solutions that ensure universal connectivity…

The regional and tribal partners will receive funding and support from the MCA in partnership with the Maine Broadband Coalition and National Digital Equity Center. This program will offer a two-year funding commitment with a maximum of $500,000. The awards listed above include funding for the program’s first year.

The Get Ready Community Support program will invest $1 million in accelerated community broadband planning at a regional scale through tailored technical assistance and the coordination of multiple professional service providers to support participants. Through this approach, MCA aims to make the planning process more efficient and to build a pipeline of private-public partnerships ready to leverage and accelerate future deployment of statewide broadband funding.

The fall 2022 award recipients include the following municipalities and community organizations:

• Bath Fiber Optic Alliance
• Eastern Maine Development Corporation (Lincoln, Newport, and Milford)
• Eastport Fiber Connectivity Committee
• Four Directions/Wabanaki Nations (Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point)
• Frankfort/Stockton Springs/Winterport Broadband Committee
• Greater Portland Council of Governments (Casco, Raymond, Sebago, Naples and Standish)
• Greene Broadband Committee
• Schoodic Peninsula Broadband
• Town of Chelsea
• Town of Dresden
• Town of Woolwich
• Wiscasset Broadband Committee

“Maine is known nationally for its investments and progress in community-driven broadband planning, and a million-dollar investment in our first cohort of Get Ready communities is a reflection of the state’s commitment to partner with communities,” said Kendra Jo Grindle, MCA’s Community Capacity Manager. “This program is designed to build a pipeline for infrastructure investment while providing the technical support to accelerate their planning process.”

Members of the first Get Ready cohort will receive up to $10,000 in direct funding in addition to professional services contracted through MCA. Services include technical support to develop high-level network designs, financial support to develop a capital cost analysis, legal assistance, and project management and meeting facilitation support. These services will be customized for each community group to complement their prior planning efforts and existing partnerships.