State Rep. Robert Stevens Announces $5.8 Million to Expand Local Broadband and Digital Opportunities

Jun 10, 2024 at 08:55 pm by WGNS News

State Rep. Robert Stevens

State Rep. Robert Stevens, R-Smyrna, announced $5.8 million in grant funding has been awarded to expand broadband access and digital program opportunities in Rutherford County.

The county will receive five separate grants as part of $162.7 million in overall funding administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). The investments will provide broadband access and digital opportunity programs to more than 236,000 Tennesseans across 92 counties.


“I’m thrilled to see high-speed internet expand into our rural communities, which will allow for more education and job opportunities,” Stevens said. “All Tennesseans deserve broadband access and the opportunity to expand their digital skills. I look forward to seeing how these new programs will enhance our community.” 

Local grant recipients include:

  • United Communications: $4.8 million to expand broadband access in parts of Rutherford and three other counties through the Middle Mile program
  • Rutherford County: $100,000 to expand digital skills training and broadband infrastructure through the Broadband Ready Communities (BRC) program 
  • FUTURO, Inc.: $225,000 to advance digital skills and workforce development by serving parts of Rutherford and three other counties through the Digital Skills, Education and Workforce (DSEW) program
  • Morecomputing Learning Services, Inc.: $374,969 to advance digital skills and workforce development by serving parts of Rutherford and two other counties through the DSEW program
  • The Village at Glencliff: $272,897 to advance digital skills and workforce development by serving parts of Rutherford and 13 other counties through the DSEW program

Grantees across all programs are investing approximately $48 million in matching funds and will complete their projects by Dec. 31, 2026, according to TNECD.

The Middle Mile grant program assists with capital expenses related to broadband deployment in unserved or underserved areas of Tennessee. It is part of a broader strategy to ensure that all Tennesseans have access to high-speed internet by 2028, and have opportunities to develop digital skills, access to high-quality tech jobs, connect to broadband enabled devices and access online learning and telehealth resources.

The Broadband Ready Communities (BRC) grant program is one of four that TNECD launched to promote broadband opportunity and high-paying digital jobs. The funds will support community-based digital skills training, public Wi-Fi projects, distribution of free or low-cost devices and marketing for low-cost internet plans.

The Digital Skills, Employment and Workforce Development (DSEW) is another one of four grant programs created by TNECD. The organizations receiving these funds will offer a variety of training and education programs to advance digital skills and workforce development, creating a pipeline for well-paying jobs.

In total, TNECD has invested more than $715 million to expand the state’s broadband infrastructure, connecting more than 689,000 Tennesseans across 275,000 residential and business locations.

Additional information on TNECD’s broadband initiatives can be found here.

State Rep. Robert Stevens represents District 13 which includes part of Rutherford County.

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