It's a startling fact: Fewer than 10% of all planned fiber/broadband projects get the green light. Communities have been spending millions on broadband feasibility and engineering studies that just sit on the shelf.
Yet, we know that broadband is critical infrastructure to build our nation's economy and to create jobs that serve to bridge our nation's widening economic and digital divide.
There's a lot riding on our nation's ability to deploy high-speed broadband, but communities are missing the mark on engaging key stakeholders (voters!), building political will, and finding funding sources (often hidden in plain sight).
I was joined in on stage today in Atlanta at the Broadband Communities Magazine Economic Development Conference by Michael Curri, founder and president of Strategic Networks Group, the industry's leading broadband economists, and by Isak Finér, Chief Marketing Officer, COS Systems, the industry's leader in broadband demand aggregation. Together, we presented a new model for community engagement to:
-Engage the community
-Grow political will
We challenged those in attendance to think differently about how they approach broadband deployment in their community, and showed them how to build the political capital to get projects approved and funded. More on this in an upcoming blog post.
List of Grant Sources
Your broadband project will likely be funded through a variety of public and private sources -- from seed funding for consultants, data, and marketing to the bonding a deployment -- no two communities will be alike. We encourage you to think big, to think outside-the-box when it comes to going after funding sources.
Mary Scott Nabers is the president of Strategic Partnerships in Austin, Texas. Mary is an international leader in the development of public-private partnerships and her firm specializes in helping entities find funding sources. Here's a list of funding sources she recommends to communities:
TIGER Discretionary Grants – surface transportation projects
Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program – intelligent transportation systems & more
Flood Mitigation Assistance Program – planning to reduce future risks
USDA Broadband Grants for Rural Communities
Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program
USDA Economic and Community Development Funds – various types of projects
Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs – initiatives that address evolving economic conditions
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) – many types of projects
Hospital FHA mortgage insurance – construction, renovation, major equipment purchases, teaching hospitals
Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) Flood Mitigation Assistance Program – redevelopment projects
Emergency Capital Repairs Program – rehabilitation, modernization, retrofitting of structures
NeighborWorks America – community revitalization projects
Covenant Grants – funds for hospitals, schools, wastewater systems, and more
State or regional economic development corporations (EDCs) – tax credits for a variety of economic development projects often focused on job creation
Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) – projects that are transportation related – funding is used when projects because of their size and complexity would likely be delayed because of funding
Smart Growth America – an organization with funding available for initiatives that are tied to ‘smart growth’ and technology solutions
Partnership for Sustainable Communities – funding for capital infrastructure projects
USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program – various types of projects can qualify for funding
Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) – sometimes referred to as “pay for success” bonds. Success criteria (established by public entities and selected funding sources before projects are initiated) result in various types of ROI for investors
Impact Investing – investors provide funds for initiatives that results in a social or environmental improvement – ROI is determined by project type and success criteria
EB-5 – usually used for large public private projects but can be used for other types of large public initiatives as well
Social Innovation Fund – workforce development programs and more
Private Activity Bonds (PABs) – funding for large projects involving private sector partners
Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds (QPIBs) – airports, ports, mass transit, water and more
Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs)-renewable energy projects of all types
Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) – numerous types of projects including energy efficient upgrades in public buildings
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Bonds – for urban redevelopment and economic development projects
Let's keep the conversation going about community engagement. I'd love to hear your thoughts. We might even be able to help you in your process: email@example.com