County Eyes Infrastructure Development Zone, $20M Investment

County Eyes Infrastructure Development Zone, $20M Investment

The Daviess County Economic Development Corporation is now pursuing the creation of a countywide Infrastructure Development Zone to support a potential $20 million fiber construction project by RTC Communications, according to Bryant Niehoff, Executive Director of the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC).

“In the digital age, access to high-speed fiber connectivity is a ‘must-have’ when competing for investment and talent, and the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need to focus on broadband accessibility at a county-wide scale,” explained Niehoff. “By designating all of Daviess County as an Infrastructure Development Zone, our community leaders and elected officials are taking a major step in addressing the broadband accessibility challenges that face us today.”

“With the help of the County’s Infrastructure Development Zone and the potential for assistance from state and federal programs, RTC Communications is exploring a major high-speed fiber construction project that could bring fiber service to most of Daviess County within five years,” he continued.

The project, as it is now being considered, would create a countywide public-private partnership where RTC would invest up to $15 million for the project, with an estimated additional $5 million coming from local, state and federal funds to construct fiber to reach most county residents and businesses.

“Gov. Eric Holcomb and I know well that high-speed broadband helps counties and regions support business growth and improve quality of life, and we are encouraged to see rural organizations collaborate together to advance high-speed fiber connectivity at the gigabit level,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch.

“RTC Communications has been working diligently to expand our high-speed fiber service in Daviess County, and we appreciate the consideration of county commissioners, local officials and the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation to support this potential $20 million project,” commented Kirk Lehman, RTC Communications Chief Executive Officer (CEO). “Fiber construction costs can range from $40,000-$80,000 per mile, which makes any fiber expansion project a challenge, especially in rural markets.”

DCEDC and RTC Communications officials presented details of the proposed Infrastructure Development Zone to the Daviess County Council on March 10, which will be followed by a public hearing and formal reading of the ordinance at the Daviess County Commissioners meeting on March 23. RTC’s symmetrical gigabit (1,000 Mbps) fiber service is presently active in parts of the city of Washington and elsewhere in Daviess County, and is nearing 500 miles of fiber already deployed. RTC Communications is now conducting “extensive planning” for possible phases of new construction, according to Lehman.

“For this project to move forward, it will require the direct collaboration of many organizations and people to make it all happen,” said Lehman. “In addition to the financial support from the proposed Infrastructure Zone, we are seeking additional funds from state and federal resources to make this build and other builds like it financially feasible.”

RTC Communications considers the proposed project to be one of high priority. “We know how the availability of high-speed fiber that offers symmetric service – reliable upload and download speeds – can offer new opportunities to businesses, organizations, schools, healthcare, first responders, and communities,” said David Redman, board chairman of RTC Communications. “A potential public-private partnership could help create a whole new era of opportunity for Daviess County.”

RTC Communications’ high-speed fiber service provides reliable service with no data caps. This service offers consumers and businesses the ability to connect with family, friends and colleagues easier, the capacity to transfer very large files quickly, the ability be able to discover the world through eLearning and teleworking in one’s own home without risking their health or safety, and to easily stream HD videos and music with no interruptions.

Niehoff also expressed his appreciation to the Daviess County Commissioners and the many elected officials involved in the process for their consideration in forming an infrastructure development zone to facilitate construction of the new fiber network. The zone, if approved, will offer a property tax exemption to help fund the construction and deployment of advanced fiber services.

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