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May 15, 2023 Group Watch: Unique Partnership Enables Broadband in Macon County

Many businesses and homes in Macon County now have the capability of connecting to a next-generation fiber broadband network, thanks to a partnership that pools state grants, private investment and philanthropic funding. According to the Macon County Economic Development Authority, the project represents an opportunity to drive long-term economic growth and improve the well-being of the county’s residents. The network has secured a number of early wins for the area, including helping attract Samkee Corp’s $128-million auto parts manufacturing facility and enabling a collaboration between Tuskegee University and telehealth company OnMed, which is providing remote care on campus for students, faculty and the wider Macon County community. To drive this project, the economic development board teamed with Rural LISC, a non-profit community development institution; Connect Humanity, a non-profit that works with communities to build internet infrastructure; and Point Broadband, a rural internet service provider based in Opelika, Alabama. The organizations banded together to raise $3.1 million, including state and federal grants, to fund a fiber broadband network that significantly improves internet service in the county, where previously more than 40 percent of households have not had access to a wired or fixed wireless connections at broadband (25Mbps) speeds.

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