- By Chez Oxendine
- Economic Development
LOCATION: Horton, Kansas
AWARD AMOUNT: $3,710,576.00
The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas plans to put a $3.7 million award toward hooking its citizens up to the internet and, for at least a couple of them, a higher education and internship opportunity to learn more about broadband.
The tribe plans to connect 146 unserved homes, two businesses, 10 government facilities, and 15 community anchor institutions — such as schools or hospitals — by way of 35 miles of new fiber. The money will also account for a new network operations center loadout in the tribe’s existing central office, as well as a rollout of communications equipment to first responders, improving response times and availability.
There’s also a workforce development aspect folded into the project: two tribal members will receive scholarships in pursuit of Associate’s of Applied Science degrees at Highland Community College in Atchison, Kansas, as well as year-long IT internships with Holton, Kansas-based Giant Communications.
It’s a far cry from current conditions, which have left much of the Kicakpoo tribe struggling to contend with modern needs in the wake of COVID-19, Chairman Lester Randal said. The connectivity will improve conditions across the board for people who had no access to modern amenities before, he added.
“The ability to build strong connections with each other, our families, and with the world at large is at the center of our community values and is an important key to our future,” Randal said in a statement. “The funds from this grant will provide our community with accessible high-speed internet, enhancing opportunities for economic development and educational achievement while increasing access to critical health and safety resources.”
The project remains in its planning stages as the Kickapoo tribes seek contractors for bidding, Randal said.