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East Texas Agency Receives Federal Grant for Rural Broadband

The following was published by the Tyler Morning Telegraph on April 17, 2019
by Erin Mansfield 

A regional agency representing 14 counties has received a federal grant to work toward better broadband access.

The East Texas Council of Governments announced Wednesday that it received the grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The grant includes $375,000 in federal money and $161,000 in local matching funds, according to Jorge Ayala, the regional director of the federal agency.

Under the grant, the Council of Governments will create a strategic plan for deploying broadband infrastructure to businesses in each of its member counties.

The counties to be served are Smith, Gregg, Rusk, Upshur, Van Zandt, Rains, Wood, Henderson, Anderson, Cherokee, Camp, Harrison, Panola and Marion.

David Cleveland, the executive director of the Council of Governments, said the strategic plan would involve creating public-private partnerships.

“It’s been a decade worth of effort to get it to this point,” he said, describing how the Council of Governments had attempted a few times before to secure funding for broadband in East Texas.

“It’s great to see some of our broadband providers also in the room," he said. "They’re part of our partnership to make this whole project happen now and in the future.”

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