Washington state is investing in bringing high-speed internet to more people in rural areas.

The Washington State Public Works Board has approved $20 million, largely in eastern Washington and in distressed areas for infrastructure projects to connect people to broadband internet.

Sheila Richardson, programs manager for the board, explained the need for the funding by many stakeholders.

“Cities, counties, ports, (planned unit developments), private providers,” Richardson outlined. “They’re all working really hard and being really creative on how they can leverage all these different funding sources to build out and make sure that these communities aren’t getting left behind.”

Richardson noted the funding will help connect about 6,000 people to broadband in the state. Washington also recently received approval of its proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, which will allow the state to request access to $1.2 billion in federal funding to increase connectivity.

Richardson emphasized ensuring people are connected to high-speed internet is important for a number of reasons.

“It’s going to impact the local economics if there’s access to broadband,” Richardson pointed out. “People are able to work from home. We know it increases home value. It really kind of levels the playing field for everybody in our state regardless of where you live.”

Richardson added the Public Works Board has retained about $500,000 for replacing or restoring broadband in the event of an emergency.

Featured photo: Washington state is supporting 10 projects with $20 million to bring broadband to rural areas. (Christian/Adobe Stock)