Grant puts free high-speed Wi-Fi in downtown

Published 5:40 pm Friday, January 5, 2018

By ADAM DODSON | The Selma Times-Journal

Downtown Selma will get a high-tech upgrade thanks to a $75,000 grant, the Delta Regional Authority and the United States Economic Development Administration announced Friday.

The grant will be used to create a free high-speed Wi-Fi network that will stretch over 10 blocks.

The grant is part of a program known as the Selma Innovation District Initiative, which is broken down into three phases: phase one will provide a reliable network while phases two and three both aim to utilize the network to intertwine businesses, help residents, promote tourism and provide safety.

Rep. Terri Sewell said in a statement that a reliable internet connection is a necessity in modern society.

“Universal high-speed internet is not only possible, but it is necessary for the survival of rural America,” Sewell said. “Access to the internet has the ability to transform our schools, our hospitals and our businesses. Thank you to the Delta Regional Authority, the U.S. Economic Development Association and the leaders in Selma for working together to make this investment happen.”

The DRA is a federal-state partnership that strategically places investments to catalyze economic development. Since October, they have donated over $7.1 million in seven statewide projects as part of Alabama’s Economic Development Assistance Program. They have a presence in eight states and 252 counties.

The EDA is an agent of the United States Department of Commerce. They aim to promote growth in distressed economic areas, create jobs for U.S. workers and accelerate long-term sustainable growth.

The Selma Redevelopment Authority, the city of Selma, the National Park Service, the Alabama Career Center along with local colleges and businesses will also be involved in the three-step process.

Chairperson for the Selma Redevelopment Authority Juanda Maxwell could barely contain her excitement over the grant. She believes this funding is what Selma needs. Her and other members of the SRA, such as executive director Barja Wilson, were integral throughout the entire process.

“SRA really wanted to be able to help Selma,” Maxwell said. “Getting approved for the grant shows that people believe in the work we are doing. We are all in this to help.”

According to Maxwell, the groundwork for the project has already started. The Wi-Fi network is expected to be completed by the end of this calendar year.

For more information regarding the Delta Regional Authority, visit dra.gov. For more information regarding the U.S. Economic Development Administration, visit eda.gov.

For more information about the Selma Innovation District Initiative, contact the Selma Redevelopment Authority or visit their page at selmadowntown.org.