The Economic Development Administration, a bureau within the U.S Department of Commerce, recently awarded $444,787 to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and The Economic Alliance Foundation for their 2021 joint application.
The grant is to produce a Northern Santa Barbara County Fiber Ring Broadband Strategy and Business Plan.
The bulk of the award will be funding for a telecom consultant to identify and assess two viable routes for a fiber ring addressing the “middle mile” broadband needs of the five cities and several unincorporated communities in North County. Grant assessment work will include a market analysis and business plan analyzing route construction, operations, and governance options to determine recommendations.
The Santa Ynez Chumash and EconAlliance, both partners of the tri-county Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast for several years, have helped launch broadband study and analysis efforts in North County with informational forums, a Chumash broadband strategic plan and finally with development of the North County fiber ring concept.
“Partnering with EconAlliance on this project and receiving this federal grant brings us closer to improving internet access throughout Northern Santa Barbara County. We look forward to producing a sound plan and working with area cities to make broadband connectivity a reality in our community,” Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said in a news release.
Both the Santa Ynez Chumash and EconAlliance are part of the Santa Barbara County Broadband Strategy Project Team, working closely with the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, the Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast, REACH and others to integrate countywide broadband planning and development efforts, entrepreneurship and innovation.