The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), in partnership with DQE Communications, is applying to the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program (MMGP) to establish and enhance fiber-based infrastructure across the 10-county southwestern Pennsylvania region. SPC is the federally-designated metropolitan planning organization (MPO) responsible for the region’s transportation planning process, as well as the Local Development District and Economic Development District, that establishes regional economic development priorities and provides a wide range of technical services to the region.

In 2022, SPC developed A Connectivity Roadmap for Southwestern Pennsylvania, a strategic regional plan to identify and guide the deployment of high-speed connectivity programs and projects throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. The Connectivity Roadmap provides a guide to building a more comprehensive and equitable broadband network that will help connect people to opportunities, jobs, and education; attract new and retain current businesses; and ultimately enable southwestern Pennsylvania to be better- positioned in securing future connectivity funding for potential projects and programs.

The regional cooperation required to develop the Connectivity Roadmap has provided SPC with the tools and information needed to apply to the highly-competitive MMGP, administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Internet fiber-optic networks, also called “middle-mile” networks, act as a superhighway that allows internet traffic to quickly travel across far distances. The exits on the highway are local networks that consumers interact with, like home WiFi or business Internet—these are what we call “last-mile” services and are often offered by other Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). The MMGP focuses on the highway, not the driveway!

Historically, middle mile fiber networks are built, owned, and operated by ISP’s, telecom companies, and electric utility entities who then lease fiber to last-mile providers/ISPs. Therefore, while middle-mile construction does not immediately impact consumer concerns associated with last-mile services, such as plan pricing, speeds, or a pesky router, without extensive middle-mile network enhancements, it becomes difficult and costly to improve current network capacity or to establish reliable networks in underserved and unserved communities. That’s why SPC saw the Middle Mile Grant Program (MMGP) as the natural next step for improving high-speed broadband in Southwest PA.

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Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program

Click to learn about the next steps in getting Southwestern Pennsylvania Connected!

SWPA Connected

Learn about the SWPA Connected Program and download the Connectivity Roadmap!

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Coalition is one of 60 finalists out of 529 entrants for Phase 1 of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge”. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge provides transformative investments, up to $100 million per grantee, to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters across the country, all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally.

“We’re proud to be partnering with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development in creating the Southwestern Pennsylvania New Economy Coalition and working together on these important projects. This new coalition will help leverage our region’s first-class and growing robotics and information technology sector into providing more economic development and job creation throughout all of Southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Vincent Valdes, Executive Director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

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With an eye to bringing affordable, reliable internet access throughout a 10-county region, including Indiana, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Connected initiative is asking community members to take a brief survey online or by phone to provide information about their current internet access and experience.

The initiative said eligible participants can win a $50 Visa gift card for completing the survey.

SWPA Connected is a regional consortium that includes the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Carnegie Mellon University, Allies for Children, and a diverse group of regional partners to develop an equitable Connectivity Improvement Plan to provide affordable, reliable broadband internet access across the region.

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President Joe Biden’s signature on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure act will put money in a pipeline that will help communities across Western Pennsylvania in dealing with needs that have been building for years.

“This is the biggest investment that the federal government has made in infrastructure in over half a century. So some of us haven’t seen anything like this investment that we’re going to see in the coming years,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “Number one, it’s going to put a lot of people to work over the next couple of years as these projects get built out. But the other thing, when it’s all done, it’s going to improve transportation and access and broadband, not just for Allegheny County but for the entire region.”

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The Southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA) Connected initiative is asking community members to take a brief survey online or by phone to provide information about their current internet access and experience.

Eligible participants can win a $50 Visa gift card for completing the survey.

SWPA Connected is a regional consortium that includes the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Allies for Children, and a diverse group of regional partners to develop an equitable Connectivity Improvement Plan to provide affordable, reliable broadband internet access across the region. This initiative is not affiliated with any internet provider and is not intended to sell any internet services. Rather, it seeks to guide the region’s future internet investments that can be made now that the historic infrastructure bill has passed, which includes $65 billion for broadband.

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Every September, SPC’s export assistance program collaborates with the PA Office of International Business Development (OIBD) to bring its team of authorized trade representatives from around the world to Pennsylvania for meeting 1-on-1 with local companies to discuss international business strategies and export opportunities.

However, due to the pandemic, we remain committed to connecting Pennsylvania exporters with people and resources that can help them increase their international sales. This September, we will provide another virtual edition of Bringing the World to PA to continue creating and building global business connections. Bringing the World to PA 2021 will run from September 13-24 and will include a series of online presentations and panels on a range of international business and trade topics.

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SPC has developed a series of online mapping tools to assess the regional broadband-related coverage, speeds, resources, gaps and needs in relation to the region’s demographic and socioeconomic conditions. It also examines connectivity and resources in relation to the region’s businesses, and educational and medical facilities.

These tools will be used as a baseline to further build upon SPC’s Strategic Plan of developing a Connectivity Roadmap (SWPA Connected) for the 10-county SWPA region. This future strategic plan will examine the current and true state of the region’s broadband connectivity in relation to the region’s demographic and socioeconomic composition. It will deploy connectivity programs and projects to enable the region’s communities that lack adequate high-speed internet access to be better connected to jobs, education, and health care.

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2020 was a challenging year for everyone, and SPC was no exception. But still, In the midst of collective uncertainly, bright spots surfaced. This short video showcases the both the obstacles we faced and the successes that SPC delivered in transportation planning, economic development and small business assistance, GIS, communications and finance. From assisting several small businesses with crucial grants and loans, to developing the TIP virtually, and helping our partners move forward, we delivered.

the countermove – spc 2020 annual report

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Greene County commissioners recently said funding for 25 different local businesses has been approved through two separate initiatives geared to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Commissioner Mike Belding said Monday the businesses applied earlier this year for the Forgivable Advance for Small Business Assistance (FASBA) program or the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP).

“FASBA and CHIRP are programs for small businesses to recover some COVID-related financial impacts,” Belding said.

Commissioners also announced nine area businesses were awarded grant funding through CHIRP, with seven of the businesses receiving $50,000 and two receiving $5,000.

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The Southwestern Pennsylvania Corporation, a 501(c)(3) corporation, on behalf of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), is requesting Technical Proposals and Price Proposals (together, the Proposal package) for the preparation of a Brodhead Road Corridor Planning Study in Beaver County. The selected firm or team of firms will assist SPC with completing a study with recommendations that will improve safety and mobility for all travel modes along the corridor.

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