GALAX– Governor Terry McAuliffe announced more than $3.3 million Monday in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awards for 13 projects in the Appalachian Region, including a grant of $300,000 for the Wired Road network in Carroll and Grayson counties and the City of Galax. McAuliffe made the local announcement at The Crossroads Institute.
McAuliffe explained broadband was critical for local businesses to trade nationally and abroad. He said he has been on 15 trade missions with an additional four planned.
“Ninety-five percent of customers are outside of the United States of America,” said McAuliffe. “You have to go where the customers are. When I talk of building a new Virginia economy it’s about a new Appalachian-Virginia economy as well. This region has so many assets. It’s truly the gem of the Commonwealth. Seventy percent of all internet traffic goes through the Commonwealth of Virginia. We should be the Cyber capital of the United States.”
The effort is part of McAuliffe’s effort to rebuild a diverse economy in Virginia in the wake of offshoring of jobs and a decline in major industries such as textiles and tobacco. Established in 1965, the general goal of the ARC program is to assist the region in achieving economic prosperity that more completely reflects the nation’s overall prosperity.
“The Appalachian Region of Virginia boasts many natural, cultural and economic assets that make it a prime location for businesses and families to locate and thrive,” McAuliffe said. “These Appalachian Regional Commission grants make the region even more attractive and support workforce development, job creation and infrastructure, all key components in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy.”
ARC funds are broadly aimed at providing economic development in the Appalachian Region by funding projects that support the goal of building a strong and sustainable asset-based economy by bringing jobs to Appalachian communities while preserving their character and embracing their assets. During this year’s competitive cycle for ARC funding, 23 proposals were submitted, totaling more than $7.5 million.
“The ARC program is a vital tool for economic transformation throughout the Appalachian region,” said Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones. “Broadband is critical to economic growth in the 21st Century, and this is a great investment in technology infrastructure that will make the region even more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses.”
Galax Mayor C.M. Mitchell noted under McAuliffe’s watch Virginia had seen its greatest improvement in jobs on record with 2.92 million positions. He said the state’s unemployment rate was at four percent with $10.95 billion being invested in the Commonwealth through economic development initiatives.
Governor McAuliffe made the announcement in Galax to recognize one of the ARC grant recipients. The Wired Road network, a regional private-public partnership, has been in existence since 2008, and is receiving an ARC grant in the amount of $300,000 for the Wired Road Connector Project.
The Wired Road is an open-access, fully-integrated fiber and wireless regional broadband network that makes broadband available in Carroll and Grayson counties and the city of Galax. This particular project is connecting the existing Galax fiber infrastructure with Carroll County’s fiber infrastructure, therefore expanding the regional broadband network. Early estimates predict more than 30 businesses and 140 families along the route will benefit.
“The ability for people to access and do business on the web is critical now,” said Mitchell as he concluded the conference. “This is truly an important expansion for the Wired Road.”