Yadkin Valley Telephone Membership Corp. has received a $1.9 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant from the U.S Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to expand broadband access in Davie County.
Matched with $485,729 in local investment, Yadtel will use the funds to construct 111.5 miles of fiber optic cable in six areas of Davie County that lack access to high-speed internet. When complete, this construction will pass 2,168 Davie County businesses and residences.
“The Economic Development Administration … is pleased to support this local-led strategy to provide Davie County businesses with the fiber-optic network they need to connect to the global marketplace,” said Dennis Alvord, acting assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.
David Bone, Davie County’s manager, said, “Reliable, high-speed internet access is a necessity in today’s world. It is crucial to economic viability and success in our community. Our goal is 100% coverage of high-speed internet access in Davie County, and Yadtel is helping to make that happen. We greatly appreciate Yadtel’s commitment to this vision, as well as their leadership and partnership. We are also thankful for EDA’s financial support of this and other projects in Davie County and our federal legislative delegation for their advocacy for these projects and our community.”
Last October, the company received a $2.3 million grant from the USDA’s ReConnect Program to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to businesses and residences without 10/1 Mbps internet service. That investment is allowing the company to lay 70 miles of fiber connecting 5,686 people, 67 farms, and 18 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Davie, Yadkin, and Iredell counties.
“Yadtel Telecom is proud to be a premier provider of reliable, high-speed internet. We are fully committed in our efforts to be a partner in the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to areas in local communities that lack access to such critical infrastructure,” said Janet Culpepper, Vice President of Human Resources and Public Relations at Yadtel Telecom. “Yadtel is passionate about building essential infrastructure to meet the critical needs for high-speed broadband internet in unserved and underserved rural communities.”
Covid-19 underscored the need for reliable high-speed internet as schools and businesses moved completely online. Unfortunately, many of America’s rural communities, including areas of Davie County, lack access to this critical infrastructure.
As detailed by the North Caroline Department of Information Technology (NCDIT), broadband allows citizens more affordable and efficient access to basic amenities such as education, healthcare, public safety, and government services by:
Education is an area where the lack of access to broadband is most keenly felt. Studies indicate that
Davie County is no exception. According to Jenni Pleasant, Davie County Schools (DCS) marketing and communications officer, the school system coordinated grant opportunities that provided approximately 100 hotspots with unlimited data plans to families that demonstrated need.
To further ensure that all of its students have the opportunity to succeed during remote learning, DCS has worked with the Davie County Chamber of Commerce to establish partnerships with local businesses where students can use their Wi-Fi and has set up access points outside many schools which extend into parking lots and most public parks.
“Yadkin Valley Telephone has been a great partner in helping address those areas of need and helping families afford connectivity,” said Pleasant. “The school system’s relationship with our corporate neighbors has played an invaluable role to extend instruction to families during this unprecedented time.”
Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission, appreciates Yadtel’s efforts and recognizes the value that grants like these bring to the community. “Grants like these are crucial to rural areas. The areas under-served or not served in Davie are like many rural areas, not populated enough for the private sector or any provider to get their proper return on their investment. Grants from other sources can help connect these areas much like rural electric companies and telephone co-ops did decades ago.”
“By embracing opportunities we can make possibilities become realities. The impact on education, businesses, and farms are necessary for the continuance of lifelong learning and moving our economy forward.”
Yadkin Valley Telephone Membership Corporation is a member-owned non-profit cooperative founded in 1950 in the Piedmont area of western North Carolina. The company’s origin was a grassroots effort to provide telephone service to rural areas deemed unprofitable by commercial telephone companies. Today, 70 years later, our mission has expanded to include bringing high-speed broadband fiber internet to unserved rural areas. They proudly serve the residents of Yadkin, Davie, and portions of Alexander, Forsyth, Iredell, Rowan, and Wilkes counties. For more information, visit www.yadtel.com.
U.S. Economic Development Administration provides economic development financial assistance to communities so they can encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in a way that works best for them. Through its network of regionally-based staff and portfolio of flexible grant tools, EDA helps communities experiencing economic distress, take control of their future and position themselves for economic prosperity and resiliency. For more information, visit www.eda.gov.