Virginia has earmarked $12 million from the national tobacco settlement with states to fund an economic development and technology infrastructure initiative that may serve as a national model for other states to follow.
Virginia officials, including Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner, the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (VTICRC), along with the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, Virginia Senator and Chairman of VTICRC Charles R. Hawkins, announced the initiative today. It will connect over 25 towns, cities and counties of rural Virginia that do not have adequate access to broadband services.
Poor telecommunications infrastructure, said officials, perpetuates a competitive disadvantage with counties that do have a broadband infrastructure, because it makes those counties a less attractive place for businesses and residents to locate.
The Regional Backbone/Roots of Progress Initiative (RBI) will create 700 miles of new fiber optic cable that will connect 5 cities, 20 counties, 56 industrial parks and provide high-speed Internet access to nearly 700,000 citizens and more than 19,000 businesses throughout Virginia at a 20% reduction in high-speed Internet access costs.
Construction is scheduled to begin in October and expected to be completed by January 2006.