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GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative has been awarded a $2.5 million Appalachian Regional Commission grant to bring broadband services to six southeastern Ohio counties including Lawrence and Gallia.

The grant will fund the installation of 168 miles of fiber to create a broadband network reaching unserved and underserved areas in Gallia, Lawrence, Jackson, Meigs, Vinton and Athens counties, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Buckeye Rural provides electricity to 19,000 customers in its six-county service area, according to a company website.

“Broadband for rural areas is extremely important,” said Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp.

Buckeye Rural is the electric provider where he lives, Dingus said Friday.

The grant will allow the rural electric service provider to bring in fiber that will allow local internet service providers to provide service to residential and commercial customers in the area.

It will take three years to install the cable needed to provide the broadband services, according to a Buckeye Rural news release.

“We are excited to be part of the first step toward the expansion of broadband into areas of southeastern Ohio where it would not otherwise be possible,” Tonda Meadows, Buckeye Rural executive vice president and general manager, said in a prepared release.

The grant was among $6.7 million in federal funds that will be coming to eastern and southeastern Ohio, according to a news release.

Shawnee State University in Portsmouth also will receive nearly $1.5 million, according to the release. The $1,496,585 grant will go to the university’s Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability project to broaden its entrepreneurial training program by incorporating substance abuse recovery support, according to the release.

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