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BOISE -- Governor Brad Little recently announced the Idaho Department of Commerce (IDOC) awarded $48.9 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for 102 projects across Idaho that support improved broadband infrastructure, equipment, and services.

In Idaho County, $320,000 was awarded for Elk City and $850,000 will go to the communities of Keuterville, Greencreek, Clearcreek, Winona, Woodland, Harrisburg, Mt. Idaho, Slate Creek, Riggins and White Bird. In Lewis County, $470,000 was awarded for the areas of Winchester, Craigmont, Nezperce and Reubens.

The grants help fund broadband connectivity for more than 43,000 underserved households, the majority of which are in rural communities of less than 3,000 residents. Public safety and local government entities received 23 of the 102 grants awarded.

Idaho County Clerk Kathy Ackerman said the county applied for the two grants through the IDOC in early July.

“I believe the main focus will be building out broadband in the White Bird and Riggins areas, but the other areas listed may have some added bandwidth,” she explained. “While we were waiting for notification that the grants were awarded, we advertised these projects for bids.”

These bids went into the Free Press legal section in mid-July.

“We received proposals from Airbridge and Inland Cellular. There was specified criteria for making the award. There were two teams of four individuals who reviewed the proposals -- one team for each grant,” she said. Airbridge was determined to have submitted the most responsive proposal.

Ackerman explained grant funds are awarded as reimbursable expenses: As the project moves forward, Airbridge will submit invoices to the county for the projects.

“I will review the invoices and submit for reimbursement from IDOC,” she said. “Once we receive the funds, we will pay Airbridge.”

IDOC began accepting grant applications on June 29, and received 137 applications requesting $83 million in grant funding. The applications were then posted for public comment and additional review.

"We appreciate the $50 million in CARES Act funding approved by the Governor's Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee for new Idaho broadband infrastructure in areas identified by the Governor's Broadband Task Force last year," said Commerce Director Tom Kealey.

For a complete list of all awards, visit https://commerce.idaho.gov/broadband/.

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