HORN OF ELK – Marne Elk Horn officials received a $ 4.5 million grant from the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant to expand the Internet in the town of Neola and service areas near Underwood and Exira.
According to Rachel Hamilton, CEO of Marne Elk Horn, in 2022 the company will complete the fiber project in the city of Neola, which it started in 2021 as part of the company’s vision to serve all customers in their service areas with fiber. Also next year, they will begin work in the community of Exira and in the Iowa area near Underwood. The company already has fiber to the community and rural areas of Brayton, Elk Horn, Marne, McClelland, Kimballton and Walnut. Additionally, in the communities (and some rural areas) of Avoca, Underwood and Neola.
“Projects like this are great for clients and exciting for us to do, and we’re excited to announce details of everything we’ve been working on,” said Hamilton. “It’s important to remember that under normal circumstances, projects of this size take a few construction seasons. At the moment, things are not normal. It is more difficult to acquire equipment, electronics and teams of contractors, which affects our ability to build these projects as quickly as we would like. But we will not let that hinder our efforts.
Today, broadband (fiber Internet) is as important as electricity was in the 1930s. The disparity in high-speed Internet offerings available across the state has left many rural residents and businesses without internet. Reliable high-speed fiber optic internet that most Marne Elk Horn customers already have. This fact has been exacerbated and further exposed by the pandemic when people have had to work and attend school from home.
“Rural Underwood needs Internet options and upgrades to keep our regional community progressive and competitive with the shift to a remote workforce and the need for speed to run more technologically advanced applications. The Marne Elk Horn project will meet this need, and we are thrilled, ”said Angie and Jim J. of rural Underwood. “Marne Elk Horn’s investment will also benefit Underwood schools and our rural student population. “
Zach Kerber, who has the Marne Elk Horn service in their machine and design shop in McClelland, said: “I was very happy to hear that they are extending their fiber and I will soon be able to get their service from me. . In the office, Marne Elk Horn spared us some terrible service from a previous supplier, and I can’t wait to have Marne Elk Horn fiber at home as well.
Hamilton said Marne Elk Horn is excited to continue to fill the broadband gap with these projects, some made possible solely by grant funds.
“Due to the enormous cost of building fiber optic networks, without grants or other low cost funding sources, it would be difficult to present a business case for installing fiber optic in these rural neighborhoods,” Hamilton said.
“The Marne Elk Horn team is excited about 2022. We know that our fiber projects will have a positive impact on the daily activities of the rural residents who live here and we look forward to welcoming you to our services and our team. If you live in one of these areas, you will soon be hearing more from us, ”Hamilton concluded.