The state of Tennessee received last month over $25 billion in federal stimulus money from the CARES Act. Over $8 billion of those funds were allocated to the state government for discretionary use. Late last month, Governor Lee’s office made the decision to utilize a portion of the money for the specific purpose of expanding broadband deployment in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) set up the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund. This fund would offer Volunteer Energy Cooperative (VEC) another opportunity to acquire grant money to aid in the expansion of the cooperative’s broadband program. Three applications were ultimately submitted to the TNECD, one for Ten Mile in Meigs and Roane counties, a second for Cumberland Cove in Cumberland and Putnam counties (see pictures below for coverage areas), and a third for Ooltewah Georgetown Road in Hamilton County.
VEC was notified late last week by the state that all three grant applications had been approved. One stipulation of the grant award requires construction of each project to be completed by December 15, 2020, to qualify for funding. Ultimately, this restriction limited the number of areas VEC could apply for and still meet the December deadline.