ConnectLA has received applications from 23 companies for the first round of the Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program.
The total funding request for the applications is $440 million, with $711 million in total project costs and an average of 40% of total project costs in matching funds. With applications coming from 58 parishes, this figure represents requests for broadband projects in every corner of the state. In addition, the proposed applications seek to provide high speed internet to 215,000 households and 14,000 businesses.
The GUMBO grant program was launched to assist the nearly 450,000 Louisiana residents without adequate broadband speeds. The grant program is a key step in delivering access to these residents, connecting them to opportunities in healthcare, education and the workforce.
In addition, the projects will create a tremendous number of job opportunities as these projects are constructed and maintained over the next several years. Employment opportunities will extend to students throughout Louisiana, as applicants have worked with numerous technical and community colleges to develop workforce plans.
“The volume of applications we’ve received and the enthusiasm for broadband we’ve encountered from municipalities throughout the state reaffirms just how important our work is to Louisiana,” Veneeth Iyengar, ConnectLA executive director, said. “As we review applications and grant awards in the following months, we will grow closer to our goal of eliminating the digital divide by 2029.”
ConnectLA is using third-party reviewers to evaluate each application with objective scoring metrics. These 23 metrics will evaluate a wide range of subjects, including experience, technical ability, financial wherewithal, provider matching funds, number of households/businesses served, scalability and small business entrepreneurship. All applications are public and can be accessed here.
Nearly $90 million will be granted in the first round of GUMBO funding. Awards will be announced in March with construction starting as soon as May.
Additionally, ConnectLA will begin the application period for the second round of GUMBO funding in July, allowing for the construction of even more broadband projects in unserved areas of Louisiana.
In total, the $177 million for local providers to build out broadband infrastructure will potentially benefit more than 125,000 locations in Louisiana over the next two to three years, positioning our state for success in the 21st century.