For Immediate Release

Contact: Pamela Ingram
March 18, 2019


Loretto Telecom awarded more than $1 million in state broadband grants

Company will match grant dollars to build fiber network in Lawrence County

LORETTO, Tennessee — The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced today that Loretto Telecom has been awarded $1,050,000 under its Broadband Accessibility Grant program.

The company will match these funds, investing a total of $2.1 million to build a fiber network in Lawrence County.

“This was a highly competitive grant process, and we are thrilled to have been chosen from among the many companies who applied,” said Jason Shelton, General Manager of Loretto Telecom. “This grant will help us deliver broadband to an area of the state that desperately needs access.”

The project calls for building a fiber network in the St. Joseph community. Loretto Telecom applied last fall for what was the second round of Tennessee’s broadband grant program.

Many residents in the affected communities submitted testimony to support the grant application, citing how a lack of reliable broadband negatively impacts their quality of life.

“More and more, broadband is becoming a necessity to our daily lives,” said Rep. Clay Doggett, who represents the grant area as part of his district. “The governor’s grant, combined with investment and expertise from Loretto Telecom, ensures our rural residents in Lawrence County will have the same or better access online to business, education and healthcare opportunities as anyone in the state.”

When completed, the network will make high-speed broadband internet access available to some 219 homes. Beginning in early April, residents can visit to see when fiber optics will be available in their area.

“This program is a strong example of how we can solve the challenge of rural broadband in this state,” said Levoy Knowles, executive director of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association. “This public/private partnership resulted in a major investment in rural broadband last year, and we’re proud to continue that partnership with today’s announcements.”

The TTA membership includes Loretto Telecom and other independent commercial companies that provide broadband and phone service, along with the state’s telecommunications cooperatives.

The Broadband Accessibility Grant program, started under former Gov. Bill Haslam’s tenure, appears set to continue under the new administration. Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed state budget not only increases the program by $5 million to a total of $20 million for the next round, it also moves the program to the base budget instead of its current status as a non-recurring program.

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