Starke County Awarded Broadband Readiness Planning Grant

OCRA Executive Director Jodi Golden, Starke County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jessica Craig, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Director of Broadband Opportunities Scott Rudd (Photo provided by the Indiana Lieutenant Governor’s Office)

Starke County is getting $50,000 to develop ways to expand broadband access. Starke and Marshall counties were among five rural Indiana communities awarded a Broadband Readiness Planning Grant.

Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch made the announcement Wednesday. “Governor Holcomb and I believe that rural Indiana is our next great economic development frontier, and it is important that rural Indiana and the Hoosiers that call it home are not left behind,” she said. “This grant, along with the recent Next Level Connections announcement the governor made last week, will help bring high-speed, reliable and affordable Internet to the entire state.”

The grant money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was distributed by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. OCRA Executive Director Jodi Golden says the five communities will be part of a pilot program that will serve as a model for the rest of the state, when it comes to establishing broadband.

Ron Gifford with the Starke County Economic Development Foundation shared more details during Wednesday’s Hamlet Town Council meeting. “This was put together by Jessica Craig, the executive director of the [Starke County] Chamber [of Commerce], who had put the application in, and both Starke and Marshall counties have received this,” Gifford told council members. “Starke County includes all three of the municipalities, so it’s not just the outlying Starke County areas. It’s all the municipalities plus Starke County.”

Gifford said he’ll let local officials know how they can get involved, as soon as more information is available.