OAKLAND — In December 2018, the town of Oakland was awarded $15,000 in grant funding from the Maine Community Foundation to explore the potential extension of its current broadband infrastructure into Oakland’s downtown district.
The town of Oakland’s ongoing Comprehensive Plan process, which identified economic development in Oakland’s downtown district as a widely-shared priority, has created an opportune channel through which to explore the possibility of increasing access to broadband internet service.
The approved grant proposal includes mapping of Oakland’s existing broadband and telematics infrastructure and financial modelling, in order to provide recommendations to the town for pathways forward to grow infrastructure opportunities in Oakland’s downtown.
While a patchwork system of fiber, implemented through a 2007 federal grant, currently services select municipal buildings skirting Oakland’s downtown district, a full mapping and analysis survey along with financial modelling is needed to assess how best to connect the downtown into the fiber infrastructure.
With a focus on opportunities to enhance connectivity and broadband infrastructure along Main Street, the proposed project intends to pinpoint downtown entry points, ultimately creating fast, reliable, and affordable access to approximately 15 to 20 downtown businesses and supporting Oakland business recruitment and growth.
“By taking advantage of our assets and expanding our current fiber optic infrastructure into the downtown district, we intend to attract additional internet service providers into Oakland, with the long-term goal of servicing business owners with faster internet and reducing their internet costs,” states Gary Bowman, Oakland’s town manager.
This is the first year that Maine Community Foundation has dedicated a competitive grant program to broadband infrastructure. The inaugural grant comes at an important point in the Town of Oakland’s comprehensive plan, as the Oakland Comprehensive Plan Committee works to translate community input and assets into actionable strategies and projects.
“Maine’s rural towns receive some of the slowest internet speeds in the country, and the expense of servicing small municipalities translates into higher internet costs borne by small businesses and residents,” explains Garvan D. Donegan, director of economic development and planning at Central Maine Growth Council. “This grant will allow Oakland to sustain its wonderful quality of life by planning for the future technological needs of its residents and business owners.”
The Town of Oakland plans to convene a Broadband & Technology Committee to manage the grant project.
Central Maine Growth Council
CMGC is the leading public/private catalyst and resource for economic development in Central Maine. The growth council is dedicated to fostering a robust regional economy through successful collaborative partnerships among businesses, governments, academic institutions, health care facilities, arts and cultural agencies, and residents primarily in the communities of Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield, and Oakland. The benefit is a highly desirable place in which to enjoy an outstanding work-life balance.