FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Officials have agreed to utilize funding awarded from Virginia’s Telecommunication Grant Initiative (VATI) for two new projects that will bring broadband to underserved areas of Franklin County.

VATI grant program previously awarded $17.7 million in funding to the county earlier this year. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) administers the VATI program with the intent to expand broadband service to underserved areas throughout the Commonwealth, according to a statement released on Tuesday, July 19 by Franklin County.

Officials say Franklin County is planning on investing up to $7.7 million of county funding received from the American Rescue Act Plan (ARPA) over the next two to three years into these projects. Additionally, nearly $24 million will come from private partners and other grant funding.

“These projects represent a significant investment by the State of Virginia, Franklin County, and our private partners in eliminating the digital divide in Franklin County,” Chairman of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors Ronnie Thompson said.

According to Tuesday’s statement, one of the projects is an agreement between Franklin County and Shenandoah CableTelevision, LLC (“Shentel”) to continue their ongoing partnership and add more coverage throughout the county. Shentel’s current coverage area will have an extra 3,500 premises added by extending their existing cable plant and building a new home network fiber.

For the second project, RiverStreet Networks will reportedly provide high-speed fiber to broadband services in over 2,000 homes and businesses in the Endicott/Henry and Sago/Snow Creek areas.

“The County Board of Supervisors and Broadband Authority see these two comprehensive projects as a once-in-a-generation opportunity where we could leverage a significant amount of Federal funding received by the County with available state funding for broadband. The County looks forward to continuing our relationship with Shentel and working with new partners to bring these projects to completion over the next 2-3 years,” Thompson said.

County officials say that both of these projects are currently under design, and permitting is expected to begin later this year.

For more information about the broadband expansion, you can visit the Franklin County website.