Broadband will continue to be a high priority for the County, since I brought it to the Board in 2017 and we made it a high priority in the following years. Recently, the County allocated over 30% of its Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) monies to support economic and community resiliency via Resolution 20-419 which included $1M to expand rural broadband to over 500 households in the Peardale area. The coronavirus pandemic continues to highlight the critical need for broadband in our rural area now more than ever. Over the course of the last year and half, the County has taken substantial efforts to address this need including approving the Nevada County Broadband Strategy Plan in October 2019, implementing the Last-Mile Broadband Grant Program by awarding two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Exwire, Inc. and Nevada County Fiber collectively with over $176,000 to hook up 140 new homes and businesses. The County also entered into lease agreement with the Nevada County Fairgrounds to provide broadband resources to families engaged in distance learning during the coronavirus.
But this is only the beginning. The County has formed a Broadband Workgroup that includes both County and non-county participants to support and promote our efforts to expand Broadband access and affordability, and to provide recommendations to the Board. Currently the group is developing recommendations to implement a second cycle of the Last-Mile Broadband Grant Program, advocating to federal and state legislative stakeholders and agencies for streamlined resources for broadband expansion and updating the County’s Broadband Strategy Plan. I fully anticipate that this will remain an important priority for the County in 2021 and will no doubt be discussed at our coming Annual Workshop. For more information, check out the Nevada County Broadband Strategy Plan here.