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IMG_2809Officials with The Center for Rural Development recently met with regional leaders in Eastern Kentucky to discuss a feasibility study for the broadband expansion in Promise Zone counties.

Lonnie Lawson, CEO and President of The Center, and Larry Combs, broadband implementation manager for The Center, joined fiscal court members from seven Kentucky counties as well as representatives from Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, Eastern Telephone, and Cumberland Valley and Kentucky River Area Development Districts to review plans for broadband expansion specifically in Eastern Kentucky.

Center officials are providing strategic planning sessions to aid communities in learning about the expansion. This meeting, hosted by Jerry Rickett, President and CEO of Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC) and organized by KHIC’s Promise Zone coordinator Sandi Curd, is one of many being held in Eastern Kentucky.

“We are actively addressing the issue of access to affordable high-speed broadband throughout Eastern Kentucky,” Lawson said. “These strategic planning sessions are a step forward in obtaining our goal.”

The purpose of the strategic planning session was to discuss a feasibility study for Clay, Leslie, Perry, Knott and Letcher counties. The five Eastern Kentucky counties were granted funding from the Office of Broadband’s Pilot program and the Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development (KARD) grant to hire an outside consultant to complete the study.

“We were thrilled to see all 8 Promise Zone counties and Knott County come together in agreement to apply for a Power Plus funding for a broadband feasibility study,” Curd said. “Major Kudos to Kentucky River and Cumberland Valley ADD along with Perry County to volunteer to draft the application. In these lean times, we must pull together to find the resources to advance our future. The Promise Zone is all in.”

The study will document existing broadband service, each county’s and city’s unique environment and identify areas of regional collaborative opportunity.

“Everyone at the meeting realizes this is more than just an infrastructure issue,” said Combs. “The Promise Zone leadership is looking at all aspects of this issue; access, affordability, adoption, and productive use.”

The Center, a nonprofit organization based in Somerset, KY, is the region’s leading provider of technology and an active partner with the Commonwealth of Kentucky on the KentuckyWired project.

For more information on the broadband expansion project, contact Larry Combs, broadband implementation manager, at 606-677-6000.