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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Join SPC’s Public Participation Panels for a virtual update on developing the draft Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The draft TIP is the implementation mechanism for SmartMoves for a Changing Region, the region’s official transportation and development plan. Hear about the progress of major transportation projects, submit questions to SPC and PennDOT, and give your ideas and feedback for the draft TIP. 

SPC’s Public Participation Panels encourage you to attend a virtual public meeting to learn more about the draft documents. Meetings will be open house in format. There will be opportunities to view maps, hear from representatives from SPC, PennDOT, transit operators, and planning departments, and submit comments and questions.

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National Roundabouts Week

The Federal Highway Administration is celebrating National Roundabouts Week this week!

Did you know that roundabouts can improve safety and mobility?

Learn more at safety.fhwa.dot.gov/NRW/ !

There are over 7000 completed roundabouts in the US with 72 in Pennsylvania and 15 in the SPC region. More are being planned. SPC is currently working on a Regional Roundabout Screening Study to help identify more candidate locations for roundabouts.

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In recognition of his outstanding service to TRB and advancement of innovations in public transportation partnerships, Vincent Valdes is the 2021 recipient of the W.N. Carey, Jr., Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Valdes is the is the Executive Director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC), the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for a ten-county region including the City of Pittsburgh, where he leads a team of planners, program managers, transportation specialists and engineers working to create a common regional vision and transportation implementation program for the communities of southwestern Pennsylvania.  The Carey Award—named in honor of W.N. Carey, Jr., TRB’s Executive Director from 1967 to 1980—recognizes individuals who have given leadership and distinguished service to TRB.

The award will be presented on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, during the Chair’s Plenary Session portion of the TRB Annual Meeting, January 9-13, 2022, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

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SPC’s Business Finance Assistance program works with entrepreneurs to assist them in starting, developing and expanding their businesses. SPC can make loans and provide assistance to high tech, oil and gas, agricultural, tourism, recycling, manufactures, many additional types of for profit companies.

If you are interested in financing your business’s expansion project through SPC, we would encourage you to visit https://spcregion.portfol.com/Workflow/, register your business for a free account, and complete our pre-application questionnaire. Once complete, SPC staff will review your questionnaire, and reach out to you to discuss your project in further detail.

Visit SPC’s Business Assistance page to learn more!

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The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program provides funds for transportation projects and programs that will contribute to attainment or maintenance of the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone, carbon monoxide (CO), and particulate matter (PM).

The CMAQ program supports two important goals of the federal Department of Transportation: improving air quality and relieving congestion. These goals were strengthened in provisions added to the CMAQ Program by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP‑21; Pub. L. 112-141) and continued in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; Pub. L. 114-94). These provisions emphasize cost-effective emission reduction and congestion mitigation activities when using CMAQ funding.

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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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