Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced Ben Lomand Connect as a recipient of a $2 million grant for underserved areas of Cumberland County. This is a matching grant with Ben Lomand contributing an additional $3.1 million for a total investment of $5.1 million for the county.
The grant area is in northwestern Cumberland County and includes 1, 501 locations (1,370 residences and 131 businesses). It covers 33.96 square miles and has a contiguous boundary with sections of main thoroughfares such as Interstate 40 and Highway 127 North located inside in the grant area. Infrastructure should be built out with customers able to sign up for service within two years of receiving the grant funds.
Cumberland County mayor, Allen Foster, states, “Cumberland County is blessed to have some good news in the middle of this pandemic. If anything, COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of broadband and the need in our community. Without quality broadband, we can’t move to telehealth, working from home, or distance learning. Ordering online and communications, in general, are more difficult.”
Mayor Foster continues, “I’m glad to see our efforts are beginning to pay off. This grant and the federal grant that was awarded a couple of months ago are hopefully just the beginning. I will keep fighting for better broadband here in Cumberland County, and I thank Ben Lomand for being a strong partner in this effort. This is a great start.”
A total of $19.7 million in broadband accessibility grants were awarded to 17 different companies that will expand service to support 31,000 unserved Tennesseans in nearly 12,700 households and businesses. The 17 grant recipients, including Ben Lomand Connect, demonstrated a high need for grant funding as well as the ability to implement and sustain the projects in the long-term with strong community support.
Lisa Cope, General Manager and CEO for Ben Lomand Connect commented, “There is a genuine need for broadband service in Cumberland County, and we are incredibly honored to be awarded the grant to help make this possible. I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone that worked so passionately during the application process. We also had several Ben Lomand retirees that believe strongly in what we are accomplishing; they worked in the area sharing information about the company with residents. But most of all, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the State of Tennessee for recognizing the value and need for the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program.”
Ben Lomand Connect was incorporated on October 2, 1952, to provide local telephone service to rural middle Tennessee. Ben Lomand began its diversification in 1993 by forming BLC, a wholly-owned long-distance subsidiary, and it was the first competitive local exchange carrier in the state of Tennessee. Combined, the two have over 27,000 access lines covering 3,200 square miles of territory. Ben Lomand Connect also offers many other services, including video, security, hosted I.P. solutions, and managed I.T. services.