Innovative Nonprofit Announces Partners for Broadband Funding, Infrastructure Approach

Bringing It All Together

Co-founders of the Post Road Foundation, Waide Warner and Seth Hoedl, have decades of experience between them in law, policy, and leadership. Their areas of expertise span cyberlaw, government and finance, environmental law and policy, electricity, telecommunications and energy law and policy, nuclear physics, and the list goes on. Through their years of research and in consulting with both public and private entities, Warner and Hoedl both saw that many rural communities needed better connectivity for economic development, better quality of life, and to keep populations strong. They’ve also found that if local communities or cooperatives are able to use fiber optics to synergize multiple utilities, the community is resilient and more self-reliant.

The Projects

On May 1, 2018, the nonprofit announced that, they will partner with five diverse entities to develop local pilot programs. These infrastructure projects were chosen to delve into the possibilities and challenges of integrating high-speed Internet access, economic development, sustainable resource management, and digital inclusion. The Post Road Foundation will conduct the studies, tapping outside experts, as needed. The Foundation will also bear up to 90 percent of the cost of each pre-feasibility study; local community partners will contribute the remaining 10 percent, up to a cap of $20,000.

  • Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation in Georgia and North Carolina
  • Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op in Michigan
  • The City of Sanford, Maine
  • Old Town — Orono Fiber Corporation, also in Maine
  • A collaboration of community groups in the Downeast region of Maine, including Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative and Downeast Broadband

The Funding Concept

Places like DBU can apply for grants and loans from the Rural Utility Service or the USDA, but the process is competitive and drawn out. The Post Road Foundation hopes this expanded use of fiber optic infrastructure will become an investment opportunity, especially for long-term investors such as pension funds. With each project, they expect to learn more, increase the success of the future projects and heighten the investment attraction.

The Rockefeller Foundation and Others

The Rockefeller Foundation has provided the funds to support the work of the Post Road Foundation. Warner and Hoedl are also quick to mention the help they’ve received from researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Law School. Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and the Initiative for Responsible Investment hosted early research that led to the establishment of the Foundation.

“We are very gratified by the exceptional response to our program from a number of deserving applicants around the country, but the leadership of these initial community partners was particularly impressive. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with these communities, and our research colleagues at Harvard, to explore the potential for bringing high-speed Internet to underserved areas of America. We are also grateful to The Rockefeller Foundation for the funding that made this program possible.” — Waide Warner

Read the full press release here.

Post Road Foundation Press Release, May 1, 2018

This article was originally published on ILSR’s MuniNetworks.org. Read the original here.

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