High-speed internet service is expanding in four counties because of a $2.5 million grant awarded to SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) on behalf of the counties.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER grant funds internet expansion to unreached areas in Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, and Union counties, reaching over 1,500 households, including over 20 businesses.

The grant will supplement $4 million of SEDA-COG’s revolving loan funds. The selected internet service provider will match these funds with $1.5 million of private investment funds.

SEDA-COG will provide funding through reimbursable grants and low-interest loans to incentivize an internet service provider to expand internet service into unserved and underserved rural regions of the four counties where traditional buildout is otherwise economically infeasible.

As the main grant applicant, Union County Commissioner Preston Boop said this is great news.

“Expanding broadband in this region and extending service to help the unserved and underserved has been a priority here in Union County and we appreciate everyone coming together to make this happen,” Boop said.

SEDA-COG Board President and Columbia County Commissioner Rich Ridgway emphasized the important role internet access plays, especially during the pandemic.

“We’ve learned the importance of the internet during the pandemic. It’s important in our business and private lives not to mention our school students. Hopefully, this will make everyone’s lives less stressful moving forward,” Ridgway said.

Mike Fisher, SEDA-COG assistant executive director, thanked the legislators and four counties and said this will build on SEDA-COG’s other internet expansion project.

“We could not have done this without the support of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, state Sens. Joe Scarnati, Gene Yaw, and John Gordner, and state Reps. Garth Everett, Lynda Schlegel Culver, and Donna Oberlander. We especially thank the leadership of Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, and Union counties and their staff,” Fisher said. “This is a true private-public partnership effort to bridge the last-mile funding gap, one that SEDA-COG is currently proving works in Juniata County with our pilot project.”

Residents & Businesses Reached by County

Clinton: 360 homes and seven businesses in the area east of Loganton and Bucktail Medical Center in Renovo comprising 14 miles of fiber in a 7-mile area.

Lycoming: 190 homes and five businesses in Moreland Township comprising 16 miles of fiber in a 7-mile area.

Northumberland: 240 homes and seven businesses in the Rt. 147 area south of Sunbury to Fishers Ferry. This includes Upper Augusta, Lower Augusta, and Rockefeller townships, comprising 15 miles of fiber in a 6-mile area.

Union: 750 homes and five businesses in Mazeppa and Kelly Township comprising of 15 miles of fiber in an 8-mile area.

As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.