Originally posted in Blandin eNews…
For many rural communities, the answer to the “what do you want for Christmas?” question is simple. “Broadband!”
But broadband is a big ask and from my experience, Santa does not always deliver on the big asks. We may get an envelope with some of the money, but we need to find a way to raise the rest though our own efforts.
This is the same with many broadband projects. Even with provider contributions and hoped-for state and federal funding, the business case for a state of the art broadband network may be lacking. Increasingly, we are seeing local governments contributing directly to broadband projects. The willingness to contribute local funds shows that the community is a fully engaged project partner. With local commitment, prospective competitive providers are encouraged to invest their own dollars and staff resources in project development. Funders may be more confident of a successful project with local skin in the game.
I encourage community leaders to have the conversation about commitment of local resources upfront and among themselves. Know the boundaries of your commitment. Be prepared to negotiate with and as a reliable partner. This will increase your ability to attract a provider partner and obtain project funding. With prospective federal and state funding looming, the time for that conversation is now.