$1.3 million for Knox Co. broadband announced by Briggs, GOP Caucus

State Sen. Richard Briggs (R-District 7, including Farragut) was among Knoxville area General Assembly lawmakers announcing earlier this week the awarding of four major grants from Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, adding up to more than $1.3 million, to expand broadband to unserved communities in Knox County. 

To promote broadband opportunity and high-paying digital jobs, TNECD launched four new programs during this funding opportunity: Digital Skills, Employment and Workforce Development, Connected Community Facilities, Broadband Ready Communities and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Broadband Workforce grants.

“Those without access to broadband are at a significant disadvantage for education, commerce and connectivity,” Briggs said. “These grants will help meet the needs of Knox County citizens still lacking access to broadband. I am grateful to ECD and Gov. (Bill) Lee for their work.” 

“The BRC grants are being distributed to local governments and support community-based digital skills training, public Wi-Fi projects, distribution of free or low-cost devices and marketing for low-cost Internet plans,” according to a press release from Virginia McFarland, deputy press secretary for Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus.

“The DSEW grants are being distributed to organizations that will offer a variety of training and education programs to advance digital skills and workforce development, creating a pipeline for well-paying digital jobs,” the release further stated.

Digital Skills, Education and Workforce grant recipients: Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee, $500,000, serving parts of Knox County; Shora Foundation, $204,385, serving parts of Knox County; and University of Tennessee, $512,916, serving parts of Knox and 20 other East Tennessee counties.

“Grantees across all programs are investing matching funds and will complete their projects by Dec. 31, 2026,” the release further stated.

Applications for the second round of CCF and BRC programs will open Wednesday, May 15, and the DSEW program will open June 15.

Another key local figure in the political process of broadband to Knox County was state Sen. Becky Massey (R-District 6, Knox County).