Thanks to a grant funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, McDowell County is announcing a new partnership with Skyrunner Internet to drive broadband availability expansion in McDowell county.

“This is exciting news for the community,” said Jeff Sural, director of the N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office. “This is another example of what communities can achieve when they initiate expansion efforts. Across the state, we are seeing an increase in affordable broadband in communities that plan and leverage their assets to incentivize private providers.”

This new development comes as a result of the strategic planning by the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, the McDowell Economic Development Association, McDowell County, and the N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office within the North Carolina Department of Information Technology. It was made possible through a grant funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

County Manager Ashley Wooten led the county’s involvement in the Broadband Committee and is excited about the opportunities that faster and more available internet can allow for students in the community.

“The expansion of broadband service will eliminate many of the barriers children currently have that limit their ability to complete research and projects,” said Wooten.

One of the driving factors in the project is the benefit to the business community. McDowell Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Bush has been an active participant in the project since 2013.

“The purpose of the project is to help with the growing needs of our businesses, as well as that of our student population,” said Bush. “Keeping our community connected globally is of great importance to the chamber and its membership.”

Skyrunner Internet currently provides service to several parts of the county. The additional deployment will take place over the next several months and will cover approximately 90 percent of the county.

“We have already established a significant presence in McDowell County,” said Art Mandler, vice president for Skyrunner. “This partnership provides an opportunity for us to increase the number of businesses and households we can reach with fast, dependable Internet service.”

The company will provide more details regarding increased availability once the installation of the new equipment is complete.

For more information on the N.C. Broadband Infrastructure Office, visit ncbroadband.gov. For questions, email Broadband@NC.gov or call 919-754-6695. Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter @BroadbandIO.