Charleston mayor promotes P3 for broadband expansion
West Virginia – The city of Charleston is considering a public-private partnership (P3) as a vehicle for expanding broadband infrastructure and recovering from the pandemic.
Charleston’s mayor released her plan for the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation at a recent advisory committee meeting. Under her plan, the city would divide approximately $35.8 million in ARPA funds into three major buckets: $8 million for economic recovery, $14.8 million for healthy and safe communities, and $13 million for investments in the city’s future.
Examples of projects that could be funded from each category include:
- Economic Recovery – new business incentives, maker’s space, business grants, tourism incentives, events, and festivals.
- Healthy and Safe Communities – vaccination and testing supplies, eviction relief, demolitions, shelters, additional support for the Coordinated Addiction Response Effort (CARE) Office, treatment programs, food security, and summer youth jobs program.
- Investing in Our City’s Future – turfing fields, pool upgrades, feasibility study and design for a new public safety center, street and sidewalk repair, and establishing a P3 to facilitate broadband expansion projects.
City officials said that Charleston’s broadband infrastructure capacity in the core areas would need to be improved in order to reach underserved areas.
Broadband expansion is a major emphasis of the state’s economic development efforts as well.
The West Virginia Department of Economic Development and the Broadband Enhancement Council are encouraging West Virginians to take an internet speed test to help improve broadband access in West Virginia and collect data to make decisions about broadband access in West Virginia moving forward.
Speed tests will be used to make an accurate map to identify where investment in broadband is needed most. The results will determine where future funds will be allocated to improve access.