Grant & Loan Awards: Calhoun County
BRIDGE grant funds of $400,000 will be used to assist with the extension of the South Georgia Regional Information Technology Authority’s (SGRITA) existing broadband network to include Seminole and Terrell Counties. SGRITA’s existing network includes Baker, Calhoun, Early, Miller and Mitchell Counties. BRIDGE funds will be used for the purchase and installation of infrastructure equipment for interconnection and extension of the network. SGRITA has received a $13.3 million grant/loan award from USDA to build a 166 mile next-generation fiber backhaul network and to extend last mile fixed and mobile wireless throughout the nearly 2,000 square mile region. SGRITA currently has 7 high-tech jobs and proposes to crate an additional 4 high-tech jobs with this two-county extension.
Equity loan funds to assist with the expansion of Damascus Fertilizer Company, d/b/a Early Trucking Company (ETC), located in Arlington, Calhoun County, Georgia. ETC is one of the largest employers in Calhoun County with 42 full-time employees who reside in 9 counties. The Company provides several levels of services to Southwest Georgia’s peanut industry. These services include transporting peanuts from farmer to purchaser, transporting peanuts in the hull from buying locations to shelling plants, shipping shelled product to storage, shipping hull fiber to regional feed mills and chicken processors, and delivering bulk oil grade peanuts to regional processors. Increased demand has required an expansion of its truck fleet from 28 to 42 trucks, the purchase of 26 additional trailers and 14 additional full-time drivers. The existing location is no longer adequate for ETC’s expanded operations. Equity funds will be loaned to ETC for land acquisition, site preparation and building construction.
BRIDGE funds to construct a wireless broadband system across the 5-county area. A feasibility study conducted by TechSmart reflects a great demand for high speed connectivity in the counties of Baker, Calhoun, Early, Miller and Mitchell. The backbone of these rural counties is agriculture and, more recently, nature-based tourism. Wireless broadband provides an opportunity to support their economy while protecting their valuable resources. This project supports a system that will allow farmers to implement precision agricultural practices increasing profits, preserving natural resources and decreasing chemical and water usage. There will be multiple benefits to the counties in the area of business development, tourism, education and local government efficiency.
BRIDGE funds to assist with a five-county (Baker, Calhoun, Early, Miller, Mitchell) regional technology assessment, TECHSMART. Georgia Tech staff will conduct a series of community-wide meetings to assist the local leadership and stakeholders in identifying the regionâ€™s technology assets/needs as well as opportunities. This current technology benchmark will serve as the basis for the development of an integrated plan, the Digital Development Plan or â€œroadmapâ€ for future technology development and utilization within the region. In addition, grant funds are awarded to assist with site study, engineering and preliminary system design for development of a high-speed wireless broadband access system to support a number of agricultural applications, including remote pivot irrigation, as well as to community residents and businesses located within the five counties.