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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Gov. Lee announces $61 million in grants to improve internet access across Tennessee

Grants will be funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the federal government, according to officials.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced over $61 million in grants to improve access to broadband internet across Tennessee.

Officials said 62 projects will be funded through the state's Coronavirus Relief Fund from the federal government. The money will be distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

They also said that improving internet access is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic since it moved many traditional services onto digital platforms. Broadband access is required to facilitate telemedicine, distanced learning and telecommuting.

The projects funded through the grants are mostly targeted towards improving access for families who were not able to secure reliable internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to officials. 

State. Rep. Dennis Powers said that $221,516 in grants would be awarded to Campbell County. It will help provide broadband access to rural Campbell County, he said in a press release.

The Department of Economic and Community Development also said it received 84 applications for funding. They said they denied 22 projects due to factors including project feasibility, applicant experience and public comments from existing providers.

Projects that were not funded are encouraged to apply for the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Program, which offers $15 million in grant opportunities.