(Cleveland)- The City of Helen and it’s residents could benefit if the action by the White County Development Authority proves to be successful. The Development Authority met in called session Tuesday and approved moving forward with applying for a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission that, if approved, would provide funding for the city to received fiber optic service.
The city of Helen is one are of the county, with a concentration of people, that is not served by fiber. The reason given was the higher cost involved with getting the fiber lines through the downtown area.
Nancy Smallwood, Economic Development Representative with the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission will be working with the Development Authority on the grant application. The authority will use the creation of jobs by a family business that is building a new Holiday Inn Express and conference center in Helen, as the catalyst for the grant.
Tom O’Bryant, White County Economic Development Director and Chairman of the Development Authority said “ It’s important that they (Helen) connect to the rest of the world, connected to the hospitality community, that people who are there visiting stay connected and have the capacity to be able to use their devices, whether it be a smart phone or actually a more complex digital device.”
The authority has until the end of August to submit a pre-application, if it gets the governors approval, it will be sent on the ARC for their approval. The process could take a year. The grant, in the amount of $423, 500, would require a 30 percent local match. The development authority will be seeking help, possible from the city of Helen, to meet the local match.