SACRAMENTO, Calif. - North State counties are among the 27 California counties that will receive a share of $2.7 million dollars to develop broadband strategic plans. Colusa County will also receive funding for the development of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).
The money is being provided to the counties by an American Rescue Plan grant fund. The projects in California are being administered by the Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA), an organization that represents 39 rural counties.
The GSFA Board Chair is Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams. He said, "With this grant award all rural counties in California will now have established, proactive plans for broadband implementation for their underserved residents, representing an important milestone in the drive to achieve digital equity throughout the state."
The projects are designed to expand broadband access for rural California. The newly funded projects will "establish broadband foundation readiness" for the rural counties which will allow for the advancement of work under GSFA's affiliate Golden State Connect Authority (GCSA).
Williams said he wants to recognize the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration for the "significant investment." $3 billion was set aside through the American Rescue Plan for one-time investments, including broadband.
In 2021 the state of California established a $6 billion dollar investment for broadband infrastructure.
High-speed internet availability in rural California is often a "critical missing component of infrastructure," according to the GSFA. The organization of rural county representatives states that the absence of high-speed internet "precludes residents and businesses in unserved and underserved communities from participating in the 21st century economy."
In addition to funding the broadband strategic plans, some counties will receive money to develop Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS). These counties include Colusa, Mono, and Inyo.
The CEDS plans are "local stakeholder driven strategies that guide regional economic development, encourage partnerships and collaboration, and improve economic outcomes and overall quality of life in a region."
Having a current CEDS plan in place is a pre-requisite for many infrastructure and technical assistance programs, according to the GSFA.
GSFA is a joint powers authority established in 1993 by the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC). GSFA is primarily known as a housing finance leader, helping more than 85,000 individuals and families purchase homes through down payment assistance and financing for energy efficiency improvement projects.