ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city is expected to receive a $250,000 grant for a hub station that will help residents and businesses tap into high-capacity Internet broadband service, according to members of the state’s congressional delegation.
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announced the grant, funded by the Northern Border Regional Commission, in a prepared joint statement issued Tuesday evening.
According to the statement, the money will be used to “develop a hub station to expand the availability of high-speed Internet along the city’s main thoroughfare. It is predicted that this project will support up to 100 new quality jobs.”
Micki Sumpter, Ellsworth’s economic development director, said Wednesday that the project will result in an Internet infrastructure facility in the city that will make higher-capacity access available to businesses. The predicted job growth, she said, will occur in small steps over several years as businesses benefit from the expanded Internet service.
Industrial grade, high-capacity Internet lines already exist in Ellsworth but pass through the city largely untapped as they provide broadband access to The Jackson Laboratory and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory on Mount Desert Island, Sumpter said. The hub station funded by the grant, she said, essentially will function as an on-ramp to that broadband trunk line for businesses.
She said the city also hopes to make high-capacity broadband available to local residents, but it wants to focus initially on business availability. The location of the hub station has not yet been determined, but it will be built where it can have the widest impact within the city’s developed center, along State, Main, and High streets.
“It will provide critical infrastructure for economic development in the city,” Sumpter said.
She said the city is mapping out the areas of greatest need that exist within that area and will use that information to determine where the hub station should be built. The second phase will involve design of the facility, and the third and final phase will be building it and bringing it online. She said there is no target completion date at this point, but the whole process is expected to take a couple of years, at most.
The grant to Ellsworth, which was spearheaded by the Ellsworth Business Development Corporation, is one of five being awarded by the Northern Border Regional Commission in Maine that have a total value of $1.2 million, Collins and King indicated. The other grants are:
— $250,000 to Indian Township Passamaquoddy Reservation to build a maple processing facility in Jackman.
— $250,000 to the town of Hartland to line the solid waste landfill facility.
— $226,000 to the town of Ashland to upgrade one mile of highway to support the town forest-products intermodal facility.
— $230,000 to the Maine Wood Products Association to implement a training and credentialing program for wood products industry employees.