The Washington Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) approved $3.2 million in low-interest loans and $2.67 in grants for public infrastructure projects targeting rural broadband, business growth and job creation for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Public Utility District No. 1 of Kitsap County, Mason County Public Utility District No. 3 and the ports of Bellingham and Sunnyside.
PUD 3 is getting $1 million loan and $1 million grant for the Mason County Rural Broadband Fiber Expansion Phase 2 Project which will bring fiber networks to Panther Lake, Tiger Lake, Mission Lake, Dana Drive and Briscoe Point, Phillips Road, Totten Shores and surrounding areas.
Four of the projects were awarded funding under the state’s first Rural Broadband program, established with $4.6 million in the 2017-19 capital budget to increase access to education, business, telemedicine and other community and economic development opportunities that rely on high-speed broadband connectivity.
- Clallam County – $225,000 loan and $225,000 grant to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe for the Jamestown Cell Tower Project, consisting of site prep, fiber build and construction of a carrier-ready tower that can support several 4G carriers and a wireless broadband ISP to provide services to residents, businesses, tribal government, administration and tribal businesses, as well as public safety entities. An estimated 214 connections in the project area will have increased internet speed up to 25/5 Mbps, and increase the number of ISPs available to three. CERB funds are matched by $150,000 in local resources.
- Kitsap County – $500,000 loan and $500,000 grant to Public Utility District No. 1 of Kitsap County for engineering, permitting, construction and material procurement for the Last Mile Broadband Big Valley Project. When completed, provides an estimated 158 connections with increased internet speed up to 1G/1G, and increases the number of ISPs available to six. CERB funds are matched by $420,000 in local resources.
- Mason County – $1 million loan and $1 million grant to Mason County Public Utility District No. 3 for the Mason County Rural Broadband Fiber Expansion Phase 2 Project. This project includes construction of open-access, ready-to-connect fiber networks to six unserved rural communities in Mason County, allowing access for improved education, economic development, public safety, and telehealth services for Panther Lake, Tiger Lake, Mission Lake, Dana Drive and Briscoe Point, Phillips Road, Totten Shores and surrounding areas. An estimated 675 connections in the project area will have internet speed up to 1G/1G, through six ISPs. CERB funds are matched by $689,260 in local resources.
- Whatcom County – $584,391 loan and $584,390 grant to the Port of Bellingham for the Whatcom County Rural Broadband Construction Project. This project consists of engineering and construction of a 40.6-mile open access dark fiber route, serving Cedarville and Cedarville East with an estimated 400 connections with increased internet speed up to 50/10 Mbps, and 351 connections with up to 100/20 Mbps. The area will have six ISPs available when the project is completed. CERB funds are matched by $869,415 in local resources.
- Yakima County – a $975,000 loan and $325,000 grant from the CERB program “Committed Private Partners” to the Port of Sunnyside will prepare for a multi-million-dollar construction project at Ostrom’s Mushroom Farms. CERB funding to the port supports design, procurement and construction of a gas purification system, underground gas and electrical conveyance lines to Ostrom’s Mushroom Farms and a new genset unit with enclosure and waste heat recovery unit. Ostrom’s is investing $45 million in the project, which is expected to create 156 jobs and retain 270 jobs within five years. CERB funds are matched by $1.2 million in local resources.
“CERB projects represent an important partnership between the state and local communities resulting in enhanced economic vitality. The projects approved for funding represent the economic, cultural, and geographic diversity of our state. The board is pleased to collaborate with each of these communities to create permanent private sector jobs,” said CERB Chair Randy Hayden
“Broadband infrastructure is essential to improving connectivity throughout the state. These investments in rural broadband and the board’s support for private investment commitments, such as this one in Sunnyside, strengthen rural communities by enabling equal opportunities to take advantage of Washington’s overall robust economic growth,” said Lisa Brown, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce.
The release of CERB funds to these projects are contingent upon each applicant completing specific pre-contract requirements, such as finalizing other funding sources and obtaining necessary permits.
Since 1982, CERB has committed nearly $176 million to local jurisdictions across the state, an investment generating more than 35,500 jobs, and private capital investment of a $5.7 billion ($36 to $1) return on CERB investment.
As Washington’s strategic economic development resource, CERB is focused on creating private sector jobs in partnership with local governments by financing infrastructure improvements. These improvements encourage new business development and expansion. In addition to funding construction projects, CERB provides limited funding for studies that evaluate high-priority economic development projects.