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ARC Releases Toolkit to Help Rural Communities Expand Broadband Service

October 2016

Expanding Broadband Infrastructure is Part of ARC’s Five-Year Strategic Investment Plan

Contact: Wendy Wasserman,; 202.884.7771
ZANESVILLE, OHIO, October 4, 2016—Today, Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl released the Appalachian Regional Commission Broadband Planning Primer and Toolkit to help rural Appalachian communities expand broadband service.

The primer and toolkit provides information on broadband technology and planning, along with tools and resources to assist with the broadband planning process. It focuses on identifying unserved demand for broadband, forming creative partnerships, and lowering barriers to entry for new and existing providers into underserved markets. It is bolstered by real-life stories of broadband planning and adoption across the Appalachian Region.

Research summarized in the primer and toolkit indicates that 80 new jobs are created for every additional 1,000 broadband users served, and that gaining 4 Mbps of broadband speed can increase household income by $2,100 a year.

“Strong and reliable broadband is a critical tool to help Appalachia reach its potential as the next great investment opportunity in America,” said Gohl. “The resources, information, and guidance in this toolkit will help Appalachian communities develop successful strategies to strengthen broadband services and grow their potential.”

Investing in critical infrastructure, including broadband, is part of ARC’s 2016–2020 Five-Year Strategic Plan for Capitalizing on Appalachia’s Opportunities.

Today’s announcement was made during a visit to Zanesville, Ohio, where Gohl and representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) met with local officials to discuss broadband expansion. In August 2016, Zanesville and Portsmouth, Ohio, as well as eight other Appalachian communities across five additional states, were selected to participate in the Cool & Connected planning assistance program to help communities use broadband service to revitalize small-town main streets and promote economic development. Through Cool & Connected, communities will receive technical assistance for strategic planning and implementation support to expand broadband services. Support for Cool & Connected is provided via a partnership between ARC, EPA, and USDA.

The Broadband Planning Primer and Toolkit was produced in cooperation with the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office as an activity of the Obama administration’s Broadband Opportunity Council. Last month, ARC announced $272,000 to help expand broadband services in 10 western North Carolina communities.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.