Cope discusses funding solutions for a connected Tennessee
Lisa Cope, chief executive officer at Ben Lomand Connect, was a recent guest on the podcast “Lead Tennessee Radio.” The show is produced by the Tennessee Broadband Association.
In the podcast episode with TNBA Executive Director Levoy Knowles, Cope discussed how Ben Lomand Connect has leveraged grant opportunities to bring fiber optic technology to Middle Tennessee. The McMinnville-based cooperative has a plan to have all their members on fiber within five years.
“Most cooperatives are deploying fiber, which is the best delivery medium, the best experience,” she said. “It is a costly solution, but it is the most future-proof one we have. We believe it is money well spent.”
Over the past five years, the cooperative has invested more than $25 million in fiber infrastructure, covering some 3,400 miles in the Cooperative footprint. During that time they have also been successful in applying for competitive grants in surrounding areas which have offset their capital expenditures for these projects and Cope says has covered about 60% of their total grant investment.
Ben Lomand Connect recently received a $2 million state broadband accessibility grant that will allow crews to expand broadband into north central Cumberland County. The project encompasses about 34 square miles and will pass about 1,500 homes and businesses.
Cope also discussed how finding the right partner and grant funding is vital for a robust fiber deployment program.
“All grant opportunities are very important to us,” Cope said, “but so are partnerships that allow multiple parties to share the cost. A partnership can be the difference in a go or no-go on a project.”
The “Lead Tennessee Radio” podcast is an opportunity to discuss issues facing Tennessee with state leaders and lawmakers. Past episodes feature House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge; House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland; Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin; and many more.
“The cooperative and independent telecommunications companies who comprise the TNBA are working hard to ensure that everyone in rural Tennessee has access to this life-changing technology,” said Levoy Knowles, TNBA executive director and host of the show. “This podcast is a great opportunity to have conversations with state and industry leaders who are on the front lines working for a connected Tennessee.”
“Lead Tennessee Radio” can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play, as well as tennesseebroadband.com.