The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $3.1 million grant to LUS Fiber – Lafayette, Louisiana’s fiber system – in partnership with Acadiana Planning Commission (APC) for the development and construction of broadband infrastructure into rural southwest Louisiana.
“In a post-COVID economy, the challenge to bring reliable broadband to Acadiana’s rural communities has become as important as the delivery of other basic utilities. The capacity to upload, download and live stream, sometimes simultaneously while others in the office or home are doing the same thing, has strong implications on Acadiana’s rural economic survival. Decisions that we make today about broadband expansion will determine which of Acadiana’s towns will survive in the future. Those left behind in broadband delivery will be just that – left behind.” Monique Boulet, CEO of the Acadiana Planning Commission.
LUS Fiber Awarded Federal Grant from Economic Development Administration for Broadband Expansion into South Louisiana
The Acadiana Planning Commission serves the public sector with planning and implementation of Community, Watershed, Transportation, and Economic development throughout the Acadiana region. The APC serves as the technical staff for Acadiana’s regional planning commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Louisiana Watershed Initiative Region 5, and the Opportunity Zone Invest Acadiana initiative.
“This is definitely a win/win for Lafayette and surrounding communities,” shares Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory. “It’s a great opportunity for LUS Fiber to deliver services to areas that either don’t have access at all or their options are very limited; and the increased revenue will be great for our community, as it means expanded infrastructure for our city and parish so that more and more homes and businesses can have access to fast, reliable broadband and the opportunities that come with it.”
Since its inception, LUS Fiber has been committed to the growth and prosperity of the Acadiana region, becoming an industry leader and constructing a fiber optic system which delivers the fastest home internet in the U.S. as well as the nation’s first gigabit peer-to-peer intranet. Not only does LUS Fiber’s network ensure that residents have access to the robust connectivity of high-quality, high-speed fiber broadband for communication, online learning, telehealth, managing business in a digital economy, and more, but it also increases the strength and stability of the Lafayette market and surrounding areas through the revenue it brings to the city and by driving other providers to be more competitive.
It is this very same commitment that motivates LUS Fiber to expand its fiber optic network to areas in the Acadiana region without access to fiber broadband internet service. In partnership with APC, LUS Fiber applied for and was awarded the Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) grant from the EDA, enabled by the CARES Act.
The EDA plays a critical role in facilitating regional economic development in communities across the nation. Grants under these programs are designed to leverage existing local assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance innovation and creative approaches to accelerate economic prosperity and long-term, sustainable growth in distressed communities. These programs are only available to public or non-profit entities, which makes LUS Fiber an ideal partner for APC in this groundbreaking and forward-thinking endeavor.
“Fiber is truly the fundamental network technology for the 21st century, providing the needed underlying infrastructure to ensure residents and businesses have access to reliable, future-proof internet. This is an initiative I’ve sought for years knowing it would have a substantially positive economic impact in our area,” says Iberia Parish President, Larry Richard.
The EDA grant will fund the expansion of LUS Fiber’s certified all-fiber network through additional portions of Lafayette Parish, St. Martin Parish, and Iberia Parish. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2021 and is expected to be completed within two years.
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