CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With $1.7 million to give away and few takers, the state Broadband Deployment Council plans to solicit additional grant applications later this year for projects that expand high-speed Internet service.The council had received only six grant applications from companies and nonprofit groups that requested $309,000 -- $1.4 million less than expected - by a Sept. 14 deadline.So Broadband Council members voted unanimously Wednesday to field a second round of grant requests. Organizations can submit applications from Nov. 14 to Dec. 15."The council is of the opinion that as long as funds are available that can be used for projects, we should aggressively pursue applications so we can award grants," said council member Michael Kelemen, who also works as government relations director for Suddenlink. "We want to make sure we do our best to get more applications."
The council plans to review the $309,000 in grant requests in December, and take up the second round of applications sometime early next year.Last year, the council received 18 applications from companies and nonprofits that requested $6 million in grants. Council members voted to distribute $2 million for wireless Internet projects.Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed bills designed to increase Internet speeds and entice people to sign up for broadband service in West Virginia. Council members expected the measures to spur more grant applications this year - not fewer requests.For months, the council has worked with regional planning agencies, encouraging companies and nonprofit groups to apply for state grants.If the Broadband Council doesn't distribute all of its grant money, the group would likely have to return leftover funds to the state Legislature.Reach Eric Eyre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4869.