Santa Ynez Chumash, EconAlliance Secure Grant for North County Broadband Plan

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SANTA YNEZ, CA – June 30, 2022 – The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and The Economic Alliance Foundation (EconAlliance) have been awarded $444,787 in federal funding for their 2021 joint application to produce a Northern Santa Barbara County Fiber Ring Broadband Strategy and Business Plan. Funds are being awarded by the Economic Development Administration, which is a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The bulk of the award will be funding for a telecom consultant to identify and assess two viable routes for a fiber ring addressing the “middle mile” broadband needs of the five cities and several unincorporated communities in Northern Santa Barbara County. Grant assessment work will include a market analysis and business plan analyzing route construction, operations, and governance options to determine recommendations.

The Santa Ynez Chumash and EconAlliance, both partners of the tri-county Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast for several years, have helped launch broadband study and analysis efforts in North County with informational forums, a Chumash broadband strategic plan and finally with development of the North County fiber ring concept.

“Partnering with EconAlliance on this project and receiving this federal grant brings us closer to improving internet access throughout Northern Santa Barbara County,” said Kenneth Kahn, Tribal Chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “We look forward to producing a sound plan and working with area cities to make broadband connectivity a reality in our community.”

“EconAlliance identified broadband as a critical economic development need in 2013, and the concept of a North County fiber ring developed by our Infrastructure/Broadband Lead and Broadband Advisory Group chair Chris Chirgwin has helped catalyze our stakeholders around a common priority,” stated Joe Halsell, EconAlliance past president and board member, and early supporter of the organization’s broadband efforts.

Both the Santa Ynez Chumash and EconAlliance also are part of the Santa Barbara County Broadband Strategy Project Team, working closely with the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), the Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast (BCPC), REACH and others to integrate countywide broadband planning and development efforts.

“This is great news for efforts to increase affordable access to high-performing internet access in areas where it matters the most,” said Marjie Kirn, executive director of SBCAG. “Funding like this strengthens the partnerships we have in place to make our communities better and improve lives. We commend the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and EconAlliance for looking beyond what’s next for our region. Together, we remain committed to finish the countywide vision for broadband by this fall.”

Bill Simmons, coordinator of the Broadband Task Force, added: “The Chumash have really provided the model for the rest of us to follow. From the development of an initial strategy to the application to the state for a technical assistance grant, followed by this funding request for design and engineering, they’ve been a trailblazer for what is now occurring across the region.”

Grant work on the EDA award will commence later this summer, according to the EDA grant award start-up timeline.

EconAlliance is a cross-industry alliance that fosters awareness, advocacy, support and appreciation for Northern Santa Barbara County industries and communities. A 501c3 nonprofit organization, it promotes industry understanding, entrepreneurship and innovation, and the development of well-paying jobs, a highly skilled workforce and worker opportunity.

The Santa Ynez Indian Reservation is located in Santa Barbara County and was established and officially recognized by the federal government on December 27, 1901.  Today, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians remains the only federally recognized Chumash tribe in the nation. The tribe is a self-governing sovereign nation and follows the laws set forth in its tribal constitution.


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