Rep. Markkanen announces grant to expand broadband internet service in Keweenaw County

Categories: Markkanen News,News

Baraga Telephone Company awarded Connecting Michigan Communities grant

State Rep. Greg Markkanen today announced Baraga Telephone Company has been selected as a finalist for a state grant to expand broadband to unserved areas of Keweenaw County.

Markkanen, of Hancock, said the proposed project would expand service to areas of Lake Medora, Lac La Belle, Bete Gris and Gay.

“Now more than ever, Upper Peninsula families need access to fast, reliable internet to go about their daily lives,” Markkanen said. “Kids must be able to go online to complete schoolwork, families and seniors benefit from access to telehealth services and local businesses owners rely on the internet for basic operations and the better serve their customers.”

Baraga Telephone Company applied for the Connecting Michigan Communities Grant Program, requesting $4.25 million to complete the $4.78 million project. The project was included in the state’s initial grant award recommendations announced this week. The Department of Technology, Management and Budget will now accept comments and objections to the initial recommendations through July 27, at which time the grant awards will be finalized.

“Without the grant, revenue generated from customers in the area would not support the capital expenditure,” Baraga Telephone Company noted in its grant application. “BTC will leverage its current operations so it will have few incremental operational costs. However, BTC could not afford to serve this area without the grant contribution.”
Markkanen said increasing access to rural broadband across the Upper Peninsula is one of his priorities.

“I am happy to see investments like these coming into our area,” Markkanen said. “Bringing broadband to these communities will increase opportunities for economic development by making the area more attractive to families, job providers and tourism.”