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Columbus County, NC – ATMC, the Brunswick County based communications cooperative, is seeking support from Columbus County businesses and residents in applying for the federal grant funds necessary to bring their FOCUS fiber optic network, with internet speeds of up to 1 Gigabit, to unserved and underserved areas of Columbus County. The funding is being made available through the US Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program for the purpose of providing financial assistance to providers who are willing to bring broadband internet service to rural areas without service or where service is insufficient. In order to submit a successful grant application, ATMC is requesting that residents, farmers and business owners located in the proposed grant areas provide letters of support to be included with their application.

If funded, ATMC will build their 100% fiber optic network in areas located west/northwest of Lake Waccamaw including the Hallsboro, Buckhead, Welches Creek and Farmers Union communities, areas north of Whiteville near the Western Prong community, areas west of Tabor City along Swamp Fox Highway and Old Stake Road, and areas east of Tabor City in the New Life Community. Upon completion, the project would provide high speed broadband access to approximately 2,500 underserved addresses and more than 6,500 residents living in rural Columbus County.

“We have heard from residents and businesses living in these areas who have shared stories about how their lives have been negatively impacted because they can’t go online to do schoolwork or how they’ve missed out on job opportunities because they their internet connection won’t allow them to work online,” said Keith Holden, ATMC CEO. “We are applying for this grant and others in hopes of bringing better internet service to rural Columbus County. If we can make this project a reality, it will improve the lives of thousands and strengthen the county’s economic development efforts,” added Holden.

ATMC has had success utilizing grant funds to bring broadband to unserved areas of Columbus County. In 2010, the company used a grant made available from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to make high speed internet available to more than 2,000 homes in Nakina, Guideway, and Old Dock communities. If ATMC’s current grant application is selected, ATMC will invest over $6 million dollars of its own to help fund the proposed $12 million dollar project.

“Competition for these grant funds is going to be very competitive, with companies from across the Nation also applying,” added Holden. “We believe we will be turning in a competitive application, but the more support we receive from local residents and businesses, the better chance we have of receiving a score high enough to win. That’s why these letters are critical for ATMC to have a successful application.”

To increase the likelihood that ATMC’s grant will be approved, Columbus County residents are encouraged to submit a letter of support detailing how faster internet is crucial for you and your family. Sample letters, as well as presubscription forms are available for download at www.FasterColumbus.com. For additional information or to receive support materials by mail, please call ATMC’s Public Relations department at 910-755-1677.

ATMC also submitted an application for $1.2 million in grant funds through North Carolina’s G.R.E.A.T. Grant program to build fiber optic broadband internet service to additional rural areas in Columbus County. If ATMC is awarded grant funds for this application it will provide service to more than 1,100 homes in the Beaver Dam and Williams Township areas.

About ATMC
ATMC is a member-owned cooperative providing a multitude of communications services, including telephone, business systems, wireless, Internet/Broadband, cable television service, and ATMC Security, in Brunswick and Columbus Counties in southeastern North Carolina. ATMC is the largest telephone cooperative in North Carolina and one of the largest in the country. For more information on ATMC products and services, visit atmc.com

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