State partnership releases $10 million in ARPA money for Cuyahoga County: Stimulus Watch

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County has released $9.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act dollars through a partnership with the State of Ohio.

At a Wednesday press conference, state officials announced that the state would contribute half of the $19.4 million in ARPA funds that Cuyahoga County previously approved to expand broadband access. .

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who joined several Cuyahoga County officials at the press conference, said state officials view broadband expansion as a “very, very important topic,” in especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You can’t participate in the modern economy, health care or education without it,” Husted said.

The problem is particularly acute in Cuyahoga County, where 100,000 residents have no form of internet access, County Executive Armond Budish said at the news conference.

The Cuyahoga County program aims to provide affordable high-speed broadband to 25,000 homes by mid-2024.

The county has used “temporary solutions” during the pandemic, such as providing affordable hotspots and computers. But the pandemic has highlighted the need for a long-term solution, Budish said.

While the portion of Cuyahoga County’s broadband expansion funding comes from ARPA funding, the state’s money comes from the Ohio general fund, Husted said.

This is far from the only recent state or local investment in broadband expansion. State lawmakers earlier this year approved $232 million in broadband expansion grants. The City of Cleveland has allocated $20 million for broadband expansion and is looking for a provider. In June, Summit County announced a $35 million ARPA-funded plan to create a fiber optic network to bolster government and public safety services.

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