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Latah County receives $15 million to kickstart its broadband and internet expansion project

Close-up of an internet router with blue and yellow cables coming out of ports and lights flashing.
Charles Krupa
Latah County will receive $15 million from the White House to kickstart the expansion of broadband and internet, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Latah County is kickstarting the expansion of its broadband and internet infrastructure with a $15 million grant from the White House.

The project will fund the installation of fiber optic cables along gaps where there is no fiber infrastructure. Chair of the County Commission Tom Lamar said the goal is to build a broadband ring around the county that will keep the community connected.

“If there's a break on one side, the broadband continues on the other side,” he said, adding Redundancy will insure there is no disruption in service.

Broadband will provide access to public services like online education or telehealth medicine.

“There are many examples of people in Latah County right now that cannot get access to health care because of poor internet connections,” he said. “This really helps set us up for the future to improve Latah County as a place to live.”

Idaho is one of the fastest growing states in the U.S. and Latah County has been steadily growing as well. It currently has about 40 000 residents.

“By getting this grant, it helps us be able to plan for that growth and be able to be prepared for the future,” Lamar said. He also thinks the broadband expansion will be good for development.

“Just like good transportation systems help enable businesses to say ‘hey, I'm going to expand and invest and hire people and grow my business” having access to good internet can do the same thing,” he said.

The funding comes from the White House’s American Rescue Plan Act. It covers about a third of the estimated total cost, but Lamar is hopeful the county will qualify for more funding once the first stages of the project are completed.

The price tag for the whole project is roughly $42 million dollars.The commission will be applying for additional funding as they complete the first stages of the expansion.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.

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