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17 December 2009

Biden, Perdue To Announce $33 Million For Broadband Access In North Georgia

Later this morning, Governor Perdue will join Vice President Biden in announcing that rural north Georgia communities, such as Dawsonville, are to be awarded $33 million in federal funds for the purpose of bringing broadband access to the areas.

The site of this morning's announcement will be the Impulse Manufacturing company.

Impulse Manufacturing is a 150-employee precision metal fabrication company serving a variety of industries around the world.

According to the White House, Impulse Manufacturing would like to expand its services, but does not feel like it can do so until issues with insufficient and unreliable broadband capability are resolved. They note that when customers send them CAD files electronically, their emails often bounce back, and their programming department often cannot download the larger files. Without significant improvements in broadband capability, the company may have to relocate out of fiber-poor Dawsonville to keep its customers.

Dawsonville is part of an entire northern Georgia region that stands to benefit from a $33 million award the Vice President will announce on Thursday for the North Georgia Network Cooperative, Inc.

A background briefing from the Vice President's office says the funding will bring sufficient broadband access to the same rural Georgia foothill communities that in the early 1960s benefited from significant investments by President Kennedy’s Appalachian Regional Commission. ARC investments at the time brought a new job-producing textile and manufacturing base to these counties, including Union, Towns, Rabun, Habersham, White, Lumpkin, Dawson and Forsyth.

Now, almost 50 years later, the region is facing serious economic challenges as manufacturing jobs are cut and factories shuttered, and is looking to reinvent itself once again by building a technology-based economy – which is heavily dependent on broadband access. The proposed project will benefit an eight county area with an estimated population of more than 334,000 people and pass through 146 county government facilities, 82 public schools, 7 technical institutions, colleges and universities and 4 hospitals.

The $33 million award being announced today is part of an overall $7.2 billion investment the Recovery Act makes in bringing broadband access to underserved communities – $4.7 million through the Commerce Department and $2.5 billion funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.