Southwest Virginia’s economy will get a shot in the arm from the sale of BVU Optinet to Sunset Digital.
The Cumberland Plateau Company (CPC), a public, not-for profit arm of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, announced the roll-out of its new economic development funding program on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, at Southwest Virginia Community College. Known as the Cumberland Plateau Regional Opportunity Program, or CProp, funds for economic development projects will be available to local governments in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties and their towns through a grant process.
As a result of an initiative by the Cumberland Plateau Company in the early 2000s and a subsequent partnership with BVU, public funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Telecommunications Infrastructure Administration (NTIA), the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority in the amount of nearly $50 million was acquired to deploy a high-speed fiber optic backbone and middle-mile network in the Cumberland Plateau region. All of this funding was restricted to serving industry, business and institutional customers. As a result, IT giants such as Northrup Grumman, CGI and Sykes located in the District bringing approximately 1,000 IT jobs to the region.
The CPC, as 50 percent owner of this robust fiber backbone system, received $3.0 million from the recent sale of BVU Optinet to Sunset Fiber (now Point Broadband), as well as an improved Operating Agreement that sets out the percentage of gross revenues from the system that the CPC receives going forward. These funds are considered as Program Income by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and can only be used for economic development projects, broadband expansion and related activities in the 4-county area as directed by EDA through an approved Program Design. Only local governments will be eligible applicants, but may partner with IDAs through MOUs or other agreements.
CPC staff gave an overview of the program at the roll-out event and distributed applications to those attending. This information is available on the Cumberland Plateau website, www.cppdc.org, under the Cumberland Plateau Company link. For more information, contact Jim Baldwin, CPC Executive Director, at 276-889-1778.
Representatives of every county and town government in the region attended the roll out of the project.