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Sprout 2024 Expansion Announcement

By September 16, 2023March 3rd, 2024No Comments

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Grant funding for broadband is plentiful but not easy to obtain

When Cullman Electric Cooperative launched Sprout Fiber Internet in June 2020, the goal was to grow Sprout as long as there was a need for expansion. So far, Sprout has grown to reach approximately half of Cullman EC’s members. At the 2023 annual meeting, the co-op announced plans for 12 news zones that will receive Sprout in the 2024 expansion plan.

From the beginning, Cullman Electric identified five factors for future expansion that would help the co-op make strategic decisions about when and where Sprout would grow. One of those strategic issues is grant funding. Cullman Electric has been actively applying for federal and state grants to help offset the costs associated with our construction, and in 2023, we were awarded a $4.5 state grant and a $1.7M federal appropriation. Of the 12 distribution areas that are part of Sprout’s 2024 expansion plan, 10 include specific areas that were grant-eligible, meaning those places are underserved or not served by other internet providers.

Brian Lacy and Lindsey Dossey sat down to talk about Cullman Electric’s strategy in applying for broadband grants, along with some of the challenges and limitations Dossey has discovered while heading up the co-op’s grant application process. Yes, there has been an influx of federal and state funding to help rural communities across the country provide high-speed internet to homes, schools and businesses. But qualifying to receive those funds is not easy.

Cullman Electric Cooperative knows that many of our members still do not have access to reliable, affordable, and quality internet service. We are working hard to change that. Grant funding will continue to be part of Cullman EC’s strategy as we work to make Sprout Fiber Internet available to every Cullman EC member.

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