By Lyndsie Kiebert
Bonner County Commissioners gave the go-ahead for planners and area internet providers to move forward with a grant application to secure funds for expanding local broadband access through the CARES Act Idaho Commerce Broadband Grant Program.
Mike Kennedy, president of Coeur d’Alene-based Intermax Networks, told commissioners at the BOCC business meeting June 30 that the impetus for the broadband expansion is to provide better access to “distance learning, working from home and telehealth visits” for rural Idahoans. The state is allocating $50 million to the project.
The grant application, which was made available June 29, must be submitted by a government agency, such as Bonner County, while the actual infrastructure and risk will fall on Intermax’s shoulders.
“It’s an opportunity to get to places we haven’t gotten to in the past,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said that because the application is due July 13 and grant funds must be spent within the calendar year, Intermax is “on a ridiculously short timeline” to expand, upgrade and improve area broadband. The Bonner County Planning Department will work with the Panhandle Area Council to expedite the permitting process to comply with grant requirements.
Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of pursuing the state funds for expanding local broadband access.
“I think it’s a real step forward,” said Commissioner Jeff Connolly. “I’ve been behind this from the beginning.”
Learn more about the CARES Act Idaho Commerce Broadband Grant Program at commerce.idaho.gov/broadband.
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