September 5, 2008 By News Report
Photo: Main Gov. John E. Baldacci
The ConnectME Authority has awarded six grants to expand broadband communications services to unserved areas in Maine. A total of more than $1.75 million was awarded to the recipients, expanding services to an estimated 12,500 residents. A list of the grantees is shown below, and they are fully listed on the ConnectME Authority's Web site.
Governor Baldacci, in conjunction with the Legislature, created the ConnectME initiative in 2006 to expand broadband throughout Maine.
"This second round of grants shows that the ConnectME initiative is spurring private investment in broadband and cellular service across Maine," said Baldacci. "These investments are enabling people in rural areas enhanced access to technology, transforming our state economy, and expanding business opportunities for more Mainers."
Grant applications were judged based on a number of criteria, including the projected percentage of households that would be served; the level of public-private partnerships created; the level of community support for the projects; and the financial viability of the projects. Generally, successful projects are to be completed within one year of receiving the grant funding.
Created under the Connect ME legislation, the Authority contains four members representing the public and private sphere. The ConnectME Authority is established to stimulate investment in advanced communications technology infrastructure in unserved or underserved areas of Maine, with the emphasis on those areas that are unlikely to receive service from a traditional provider.
These Authority awards go to six innovative applications, five of which will expand access to high speed Internet service to more than 60 communities that had little prospect of receiving service. The sixth application proposes to build a fiber optic cable network that will connect three partnering medical centers and seven health care facilities in six towns across Franklin, Oxford, and Androscoggin counties, providing high speed telehealth services. The ConnectME funds will provide the match requirement for a $3.6 million FCC Rural Health Care Pilot Project grant.
The following are the applicants and the communities served:
The ConnectME Authority expects to conduct a third round of grant awards next spring, based on funding availability.
The members of the Authority are Jean Wilson, vice president of information services at LL Bean, Chair; Mitchel W. Davis, CIO for Bowdoin College; Richard B. Thompson, CIO for Maine state government; and Sharon Reishus, chair of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.