RIDGWAY — Pennsylvania will see a coordinated statewide effort to expand high-speed internet access thanks to a $600,000 grant made possible by strong legislative support in the Pennsylvania state House and Senate.

Jim Chorney, North Central Executive Director, thanked Sen. Cris Dush (R-25), Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron, McKean/Potter), Rep. Mike Armanini (R-Clearfield/Elk) and Rep. Brian Smith (R-Jefferson) for their support in securing the grant.

“We are grateful to our legislators who recognize the crucial importance of expanding high-speed internet service to our communities and businesses, especially during these difficult times,” Chorney said. This is a tremendous opportunity for the region to achieve affordable broadband connectivity especially with many people remote working, and businesses needing this essential internet service.

The Keystone Communities grant was awarded to the seven Local Development Districts (LDDs) that serve 52 Pennsylvania counties. The grant complements a previous $600,000 Appalachian Regional Commission POWER broadband grant supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) awarded to the LDDs to undertake broadband expansion throughout the state.

“We truly appreciate the partnership we have with our legislative champions and the team at DCED,” Chorney said.

The LDDs are multi-county organizations providing services such as community and economic development, transportation, international trade, strategic planning, and much more. Counties share information through their LDD, respond to common concerns, and develop solutions to today’s critical issues. For over 40 years, Pennsylvania’s LDDs have taken the lead in community and business initiatives, coordinating and delivering services on behalf of their member counties as well as the Commonwealth.

The North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission is one of the seven LDDs and serves the counties of Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter. North Central’s share of the Keystone Communities grant is $133,125.

The LDDs will coordinate to identify areas of Pennsylvania that need broadband and then expand coverage by either providing it or incentivizing internet service providers to expand service.

As a result, broadband will be expanded to a total of 410 businesses, 860 homes, and 13 communities throughout the LDDs’ statewide regions.

The LDDs that will identify areas that need broadband are Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission, and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

The following LDDs have identified underserved areas and will expand broadband service: North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), and Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission.

All projects are anticipated to be completed over the next 12 to 18 months.

North Central will use the grant money to expand the existing internet service area. There will be at least one project in all six counties. Cameron County will be in the Rich Valley area; Clearfield is Smoke Run; Elk County will be Highland; Jefferson County will be Desire Road; McKean County will be the Marshburg area; and they have not identified an area in Potter County yet.

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The North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission is a premier regional development organization that serves the public and private sector through a wide range of economic, community, infrastructure, human services, and technology programs for Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, and Potter Counties.

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