By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2021 Issue
Delta Fiber LLC, Delta Electric Power Association’s wholly owned broadband subsidiary doing business as DE LightSpeed, is expanding its existing high speed, fiber internet network to additional areas of Delta Electric’s service territory over the next five years.
Areas that will get the high speed internet service by September 2021 include southwest Carroll County, southwest Grenada County, northern Holmes County and eastern Leflore County. By December 2021, additional areas of southern Carroll County and northern Holmes County, along with most of Montgomery County and part of southern Grenada County, will be included in the expansion.
The western area of Delta Electric’s service territory will get the high-speed internet service in years 2022-2025. In the summer of last year, Delta Electric received $4.9 million in matching CARES Act grant funds from the State of Mississippi to fund a pilot broadband project in northern Carroll County.
DE LightSpeed began connecting Delta Electric customers to its high-speed internet service just before Thanksgiving. The pilot broadband project is expected to be complete by March 31. DE LightSpeed is offering residential and business fiber internet service with maximum speeds of 1000 Meg or Gigabit service.
During November 2020, Delta Fiber LLC participated in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction as a member of the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, put together by Delta Fiber’s national partner, Conexon.
Delta Fiber LLC was a winning bidder for $46.9 million of RDOF grant support over 10 years for broadband expansion to designated FCC underserved or unserved locations within Delta Electric’s service territory.
“We are very excited about expanding our fiber internet service and building on the success of our Carroll County pilot broadband project,” said David O’Bryan, General Manager of Delta Electric. “We ask for patience from our customers as we work to expand this essential service to other parts of our service territory and we encourage all customers in these areas to pre-register for our high speed, fiber internet service as soon as possible,” O’Bryan added.
GREENWOOD-LEFLORE-CARROLL SETS SIGHTS ON FUTURE
2019 was a banner year for the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation (EDF) and Greenwood Industrial Board. It was instrumental in the creation of over 600 jobs and announced nearly $30 million in investments.
2020 started with that same momentum, announcing a $9 million investment and 100 new jobs at Express Grain Terminals, as well as an expansion at Blue Ridge Foods. And then the coronavirus pandemic reared its ugly head. Despite the pandemic, local companies are doing surprisingly well according to the EDF.
Companies, including Viking Range, Lynx Grills and Milwaukee Electric Tool, are experiencing record order volumes in 2021. Viking and Lynx, in particular, have increased employment by 100 since the end of 2019.
This year, the EDF also plans to focus on airport development. With the help of Delta Electric Power Association and Cooperative Energy, the EDF has made improvements to the Greenwood Leflore Airport access road and will focus on developing a 20-acre green site. Additionally, new activity can be seen at the Leflore County Business Incubator with Delta Lodging Group locating its corporate offices to the 23,000-square-foot facility. Delta Lodging owns 12 hotels and employs over 250 people across the Delta.
“What can we expect post-pandemic? My team chooses to be optimistic,” says Angela Curry, Executive Director for the EDF and Industrial Board.
Curry has high hopes for the future of Greenwood and Leflore and Carroll Counties. Maybe this pandemic will be a catalyst for the reshoring of manufacturing jobs back to the United States from China and elsewhere. Maybe the pandemic will forge an aggressive community marketing campaign that will distinguish the Greenwood area from the competition for jobs and new industry. Maybe it will ignite a resurgence of relocations to the Mississippi Delta and away from urban hot spots for COVID-19, or kick start new site selection projects due to these unheard of low interest rates.
Meanwhile, Curry says the Industrial Board and Foundation will look to draft a new, updated strategic plan, continue improvements at the Greenwood Leflore Airport, maintain its ACT WorkReady Certification and work closely with local business and industry to revamp its Existing Industry Program.
“We will continue to work with our partners to bring about successful economic development projects. We appreciate our project managers at the Mississippi Development Authority, our planning districts, Delta Council and Delta Strong, our utility companies and most importantly, our city and county leaders for always supporting our efforts,” says Curry.
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