Raleigh, N.C. – Bipartisan legislation providing an additional $30 million to expand rural broadband across North Carolina in response to COVID-19 was unanimously approved by the State House of Representatives on Monday.
House Bill 1105: COVID/Supplementary G.R.E.A.T Grant Period is sponsored by Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union), Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus), and Rep. Robert Reives (D-Chatham).
The legislation appropriates $30 million in CARES Act funding for a special supplementary grant process for the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program to expand critical internet connectivity in North Carolina.
The General Assembly created the G.R.E.A.T program in 2018 and appropriated $10 million for it that year. The program received $15 million in 2019 and $9 million earlier this year. With H.B. 1105 creating a special $30 million round of funding, the General Assembly has committed a total of $64 million to expand rural broadband.
The bill sponsors released the following joint statement:
“The GREAT program has a proven track record of successfully leveraging private money to expand rural broadband availability across this State. Now more than ever, we must make additional investments so that North Carolinians can fully engage in distance learning, telework, and telehealth,” Reps. Arp, Saine, Jones, and Reives said in a joint statement Thursday.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also released a statement:
“I appreciate the continued commitment this House has made to expand critical broadband infrastructure in our State,” Speaker Moore said.These investments will ensure all of North Carolina is ready to outpace competitors in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”