THE RECOVERY FUND AND BROADBAND
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund), part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which NACo helped to develop and strongly advocated to pass, allocates $65.1 billion. These funds provide direct, flexible aid for every county, parish and borough in America. Counties are on the front lines in delivering this aid to residents and are a driving force connecting communities and strengthening the economy.
As directed by the ARPA and the U.S. Department of Treasury, counties can invest Recovery Funds into a broad range of programs, services and projects under five categories to: support the public health response; address negative economic impacts caused by COVID-19; replace lost revenue; provide premium pay to essential workers; and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.
Since the enactment of the ARPA, America’s counties have been working hard to develop Recovery Fund implementation plans that will help spur an equitable economic recovery across the nation. As sound financial stewards, counties are investing these critical Recovery Funds to ensure the health and well-being of our nation’s residents and the economic vitality of our local communities. Many counties are in the preliminary stages of development and implementation of our Recovery Fund Plans. This report highlights county investments to tackle the digital divide, increase internet speeds and connect previously unserved residents with reliable broadband access.
COUNTIES ARE EXPANDING BROADBAND ACCESS AND BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Over 11 million Americans in rural areas and over 846,000 Americans in tribal lands lack access to broadband that meets the federal definition for minimum standards. Counties are working diligently to address these gaps in service across the country.
COUNTIES PLAN TO INVEST RECOVERY FUNDS TO:
COUNTIES ARE EXPANDING BROADBAND ACCESS FOR RESIDENTS
How are counties investing the funds? NACo analysis of 200 county ARPA Recovery Fund plans reveals county-designed investments in the community across key areas of need. These local priorities are found within county plans at the rate displayed in the chart, e.g. 33 percent of county plans include investments in broadband. The darker bars are the investment categories adjacent to broadband that support the continuation and expansion of services in counties. The examples in this report further illustrate the allocations to support resident broadband access on the local level.
Note: NACo analysis of 200 county Recovery Plan Performance Reports from counties with a population of 250,000 and above, as required by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Analysis is as of Nov. 19, 2021. While the bar chart sources Recovery Plans, the narrative examples in this report draw from a variety of resources including the Recovery Plans, press releases and other official documents.