Bizzarro announces $50K for study to improve Erie broadband

Feasibility study will examine how to improve access in county

ERIE, Oct. 17 – An Appalachian Regional Commission POWER Initiative grant will fund a $50,000 study on how to improve broadband access in Erie County, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro announced Monday.

"Broadband has quickly gone from a luxury to an essential public utility, especially for our small businesses looking to compete and grow, or students looking to get ahead in life,” Bizzarro said. “You don't have to travel far in Erie County to find large gaps in service, and I want to change that for everyone as soon as possible."

The feasibility study will analyze existing broadband infrastructure, including coverage gaps, and find recommendations for expanding and improving access throughout Erie County – and serve 16 communities over the course of a year. Erie Area Council of Governments will contract with experts to perform the study and work alongside Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development to provide economic impact data.

“The POWER Initiative grants allow communities affected by the changing energy market to focus on ways of improving our communities, and today’s announcement will direct funds to focus on technical assistance – including workforce development,” Bizzarro said.

The project is one of nine announced Monday as part of $6.9 million being devoted to Pennsylvania’s coal communities to support economic development projects for improved opportunities.

The POWER, or Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization, Initiative grant program directs federal resources to economic diversification projects for areas where job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries has occurred.