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Board pursues broadband coverage

The Southern Tier West Development Foundation board of directors is continuing its commitment to address the lack of adequate broadband coverage in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties by approving up to $53,000 for the project over the next two years.

The board previously dedicated $40,000 to match a federal grant for a project to cover areas of eastern Cattaraugus County. The foundation's board is committed to improving the region's quality of life and economic viability by strengthening community capacity and supporting important community and economic development projects.

"We all know that broadband is one of the next equalizers as far as improving education, attracting industry, creating jobs and staying competitive," said Donald Rychnowski, foundation president.

The next phase of the foundation's broadband project will build off previous projects and serve more communities in the three-county region.

"Basically, it's a two-year project for $499,000," said Richard Zink, foundation treasurer. "If built, broadband would cover about 90 percent of the three-county region."

"We're fairly comfortable over that time period we can obtain $200,000 through the Appalachian Regional Commission for the project," Zink said.

He outlined the strategy for obtaining the local money match by approaching towns and villages that either currently have broadband are are in need of broadband, asking for their support. He said several have already expressed interest and are willing to make requests from local boards.

By bringing 30 towns on board, Zink said, the foundation would be able to fill the gap of up to $53,000 to complete the project.

With a completion date within the next four months, Zink said he would be available to meet with municipalities regarding funding.

Rychnowski said, "Assembling adequate broadband service for the three-county region is like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, and we can do it if we take it piece by piece and work together. The idea is to work with as many providers as possible, seeking proposals from various companies."

For more information contact Zink at (716) 945-5301 or by e-mail: rzink@southerntierwest.org.

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