By now many of you are aware that federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (HR1319) became law on March 11. A portion of these funds will be provided directly to communities. The Department of Treasury is currently crafting the guidance and requirements for implementing this historic stimulus package, and we anticipate their efforts to take at least two or three weeks, if not longer.
Last week, via Zoom, I attended a summit meeting, which was a joint effort made possible by Regional Optical Communications and Region 1 and Region 4 Planning and Development councils. Also included in the meeting were liaisons from the offices of our Senators and Representatives, and partners from utility, broadband and other interests. Each provided insight as to how the funds should be used. Expectations are that the funds will have to tie back to the COVID-19 pandemic and towns are awaiting further directives to that end.
As more information regarding these funds becomes available, another informational and planning summit will be scheduled by Region 1, Region 4 and members of Region Optical Communications (ROC). Federal representatives will explain the allowable uses for these funds, plan for best uses and practices, and look to fund future projects that will benefit the needs of our communities. In particular, Regions 1 and 4 will provide advice on the use of these funds for the desperately needed proliferation of Broadband connectivity. We will discuss how these dollars can best be dispersed in conjunction with the immense amount of work already planned under the ROC initiative.