Broadband Access Planning Grant Awarded to City of Atlantic City to Help Address Digital Divide
- Posted on: 05/16/2022
Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group Instrumental in Effort to Secure Grant to Create a Broadband Master Plan
TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which helps lead the Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group, today announced the City of Atlantic City was awarded a broadband planning grant to improve Internet access and help close the digital divide among underserved populations in the city. The Build Better Broadband grant, which doesn’t require any matching dollars from the City, will fund a broadband master plan and related work such as Internet access surveys, network design, financial modeling, and risk assessment.
The Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group, which Governor Murphy and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver created during the pandemic, was instrumental in the effort to secure the grant. Closing the digital divide in Atlantic City was the number one recommendation of the Working Group’s workforce and development subcommittee, whose members helped spearhead a broadband committee in the city and helped complete the grant application.
“This grant funding is fantastic news for Atlantic City. We know there are households in the city that can’t connect to or are unable to access WiFi and this grant will help us determine why and how to get them access,” said Lt. Governor Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “When the Governor and I created the Atlantic City Working Group, it was with the idea to position the city to emerge stronger and more resilient after the pandemic. Today’s announcement demonstrates that it’s working. We thank everyone who was involved in securing this grant for the city.”
“This is great news for our residents in the Great City of Atlantic City. Equal access to broadband is more important now than ever before and our communities deserve the same opportunity to experience the internet to its fullest extent,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small, Sr. “This grant should allow us to take the necessary steps to figure out why the digital divide exists in Atlantic City so we can solve that issue, with the help of our fantastic partners.”
The City of Atlantic City is one of only five communities in the nation to receive a Build Better Broadband grant. The grant is being provided by Connect Humanity, a fund advancing digital equity, in partnership with EntryPoint Networks and Biarri Networks. The grant initiative is focused on improving the speed, affordability, and overall access to the Internet in diverse, low-income, and/or historically underserved communities through non-profit, community-owned, or public infrastructure. In addition to equity, the broadband master plan will also consider economic development support and smart city goals.
“This master plan is the critical first step to building the digital infrastructure and skills the city needs so that all residents can experience the internet’s full benefits,” said Jane Coffin, Connect Humanity Chief Community Officer. “City leaders understand the importance of digital equity and we’re excited to work with them, the wider community, and our partners at EntryPoint and Biarri to help build better broadband for everyone in Atlantic City.”
The Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group was convened in summer 2020 to examine the post-pandemic reality of Atlantic City and provide recommendations for how the city can economically and socially recover from COVID-19. It issued a report in May 2021 to help guide the continued work that the State of New Jersey, City of Atlantic City, and stakeholders are doing to revitalize Atlantic City and improve its quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors.
The DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including local government management and finance, affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, and disaster recovery and mitigation.