Vermont House District Franklin-5

Business affected by poor broadband coverage?


Northwest CUD: Who We Are 

  • The Northwest Communications Union District (NWCUD) is a government organization made up of volunteer members from 12 Northwest Vermont municipalities.  
  • NWCUD’s mission is to “leverage partnerships and procure funding to connect Northwestern Vermont via Open Access Fiber to ensure opportunity for all homes and businesses in our region.” 
    • The open access fiber model works similar to how roads work. A public entity builds the fiber, and then private companies are able to compete to provide services on that fiber.  
    • Northwest CUD’s goal is to serve every home and business in its region, with a focus on serving those without good service first.  
  • NWCUD is in process of completing a feasibility study and business plan. 

The Grant: USDA Rural Business Development Grant 

  • NWCUD is applying for a USDA Rural Business Development Grant (USDA RBDG) to fund planning work that will support the eventual development and implementation of a high-speed open access broadband network. 
    • The grant will fund a consultant to provide business planning and administrative assistance.  
    • This will build on NWCUD’s previous work on a broadband feasibility study and business plan.  

USDA Definition of Small Business 

  • Under 50 employees and has less than $1 million projected gross revenue  
  • All businesses must be owned by at least 51% US citizens 
  • There is no requirement for the business to have any type of formal structure 
  • Informal sole-proprietor businesses meet this definition 
  • Both for-profit and private not-for-profit organizations meet this definition 

Letters of Commitment: What NWCUD is Looking For 

  • Describe your business and how having reliable, affordable broadband would help 
  • State how many jobs you think you could create or save if you had access to broadband  
    • State if those jobs are full or part-time 
  • Things to consider 
    • Jobs saved can be your own (e.g. if you are a sole-proprietor) 
    • Broadband access can open up new online markets 
    • Broadband access can allow you to hire remote employees, reducing your overhead costs 
  • Use business letter head. Sign and date.  (digital signature is fine!) 

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