"The Arkansas Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that it has awarded the city of Lonoke a $2 million grant to deploy fiber internet there.
It's the third Arkansas Rural Connect grant the state has awarded. The city is getting the money in partnership with CableSouth Media 3.
"This grant will provide significant improvement to the infrastructure in the city of Lonoke as well as better facilitating the educational system," said Republican State Rep. Roger Lynch, whose district is made of parts of Lonoke, Pulaski, Arkansas, Jefferson and Prairie counties. "It will also provide support to those whose jobs and businesses require a more reliable and faster service. I'm pleased to see our community move forward with this grant.”
The Commerce Department received $19.3 million in federal CARES Act money for the grants; the spending was approved by Arkansas' CARES Act Steering Committee and the state Legislature. Grant recipients must spend the money by Dec. 30.
The initiative comes as the coronavirus pandemic pushes much of daily living online, highlighting Arkansas' status as a laggard in broadband deployment and illustrating the digital divide between broadband haves and have-nots.
"The legislature has made broadband a top priority," State Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, said. "I will continue to champion these efforts as we continue to expand the broadband footprint across District 28."
The department is continuing to evaluate applications for more grants, focusing on projects that can deploy broadband to qualified areas before Dec. 30. For more information or to apply, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov."