GENESEO, N.Y., MAY 8, 2023 – Following the announcement that Livingston County was awarded $11.3 million in grant funding through the United States Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer along with USDA New York State Director Brian Murray joined with County representatives, Empire Access and partners to celebrate breaking ground for Light Up Livingston – a generational initiative to bring high-speed, affordable broadband internet to every corner of Livingston County.
“This $11.3 million is a game-changer for Livingston County, and I am proud to have fought for the federal investment that will help bring broadband internet access to every corner of the county,” said Senator Schumer. “This investment is about more than just faster internet – it’s about building a stronger, more resilient community. I commend Livingston County, and its provider partner Empire Access, for launching the ‘Light Up Livingston’ initiative that will not only help businesses and farms thrive, but will also connect families to vital resources like tele-health and online education. This is a critical step forward for the Livingston community, and I am thrilled to see this initiative that I fought for two years ago finally coming to fruition as we work to build a brighter future for all.”
Light Up Livingston is spearheaded through a public-private partnership with Empire Access, a family-owned telecom provider based in Prattsburgh, which is partnering with Livingston County to build out the new infrastructure. Specifically, the grant will enable the deployment of a fiber-to-the-premises network to reach thousands of residents, including 96 farms and 22 businesses in the County.
“With Monday’s ground breaking for Light Up Livingston, families and businesses throughout Livingston County are now one step closer to having reliable, high-speed broadband internet that is essential to remaining competitive and informed in today’s environment,” said David L. LeFeber, Chair of the Livingston County Board of Supervisors. “I’m grateful to Senator Schumer for his tireless advocacy for Livingston County and rural communities. Light Up Livingston is a generational project that ensures our residents have access to evolving tele-medical opportunities, expansion in remote work, education and more.”
One of the most innovative projects in the County’s 200-year history, Light Up Livingston will provide residents with the resources and tools needed to stay up-to-date with current events and thrive in today’s digitally-driven society.
“We are excited to partner with Livingston County, Senator Schumer and the USDA to build 300+ miles of fiber optic network to service rural homes and farms with gigabit broadband,” added James Baase, Chief Executive Office for Empire Access. “USDA grants are essential to provide affordable broadband to rural America!”
The County also has a pending application for Round 4 of the USDA’s ReConnect Program, which would further bolster its reach by expanding to over 4,600 addresses including agricultural and residential locations along with businesses and critical infrastructure.
“When rural business owners, students, and families have access to good, reliable, high-speed internet, their opportunities grow,” USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small said. “Here in New York, as we break ground on a project made possible by an $11.3 million USDA ReConnect grant, I know this investment will impact people across Livingston County and beyond. Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is committed to partnering with leaders like Senator Schumer to ensure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet. That’s how you grow the economy –in rural communities, and across the nation.”
Learn more about Light Up Livingston, including the various phases of the initiative and more by visiting Livingston County’s website.
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About Livingston County:
Founded in 1821, Livingston County, N.Y., is comprised of more than 61,000 residents in 17 towns located across 631 square miles of the Finger Lakes region.