More than $400,000 in federal funding has been awarded to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and EconAlliance to pursue more accessible broadband in northern Santa Barbara County.
The funds, which total $444,787 and come from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, will be used to fund a telecom consultant who will help create a plan to bring broadband to cities and several unincorporated communities in the area.
Both the Santa Ynez Chumash and EconAlliance have helped launch study and analysis efforts that have looked at broadband in north Santa Barbara County. Additionally, they have created a Chumash broadband strategic plan and developed the North County fiber ring concept.
"EconAlliance identified broadband as a critical economic development need in 2013," Joe Halsell, past president and board member of EconAlliance, said in a statement.
"This is great news for efforts to increase affordable access to high-performing internet access in areas where it matters the most," Marjie Kirn, executive director of Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, said. "Funding like this strengthens the partnerships we have in place to make our communities better and improve lives."
Kirn says the groups are committed to complete the vision for broadband by the fall of 2022.
"Partnering with EconAlliance on this project and receiving this federal grant brings us closer to improving internet access throughout northern Santa Barbara County," Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said. "We look forward to producing a sound plan and working with area cities to make broadband connectivity a reality in our community."