On January 18 during the House Appropriations Committee meeting, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) provided testimony on broadband initiatives and the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund.
According to DHCD, Governor Terry McAuliffe’s introduced budget provides $2.7 million each year of the biennium to broadband programs. Specifically, $250,000 is for Broadband Planning grants and $2.5 million is for Broadband Implementation grants each year of biennium. This funding will enhance current planning and implementation efforts.
Broadband Planning grants assist communities in developing strategic plans including demonstrating a market, preliminary engineering, and technical and legal assistance, and exploring opportunities to partner with private providers and leverage additional financing. Implementation grants leverage private, state and federal loans for broadband deployment as well as help to ensure communities have the telecommunications infrastructure necessary to compete in a global market.
DHCD also informed the committee about the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund. The introduced budget provides $5 million each year of biennium in an investment fund to ensure access to healthy and affordable food to underserved communities, both rural and urban. These funds would leverage private funds to assist up to 20 grocery store developments with up to $90 million in additional private and public financing expected. The Fund would assist businesses to overcome some of the barriers to locating in underserved rural and urban markets and will encourage a store to locate in a lower income community that does not have access.
VACo supports DHCD’s broadband initiatives and the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund as both programs assist community development efforts for Virginia’s urban and rural counties.
A copy of DHCD’s presentation can be found here.