AUGUSTA — The Maine Connectivity Authority will be allocating $10 million to ConnectMaine for the agency’s grant round in spring 2022 following approval from its Board of Directors on a Memorandum of Understanding with ConnectMaine.

According to a press release Jan. 18 from Maine Connectivity Authority, combined with existing bond funds available to ConnectMaine, $16 million will be granted to local communities and ISPs to expand broadband access this spring — over four times more than ever before.

ANDREW BUTCHER

Earlier this month, the Legislature unanimously confirmed Andrew Butcher as president of the Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA), the new agency charged with expanding high-speed broadband access throughout the state.

Created through bipartisan legislation and signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills last June, the MCA has been budgeted more than $20 million through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan and nearly $130 million through federal American Rescue Plan funds to make universal high-speed internet service a reality in Maine. Last week, the MCA launched a new website at MaineConnectivity.org, featuring a new logo.

Nominated by Mills last October, Butcher started his role in an interim capacity the following month. Upon confirmation, the agency is now seeking a chief financial officer (posted on the Live+Work in Maine Jobs Board) and has just sought public input on a recently produced strategic plan, according to the press release.

Butcher previously served as the director of the Maine Broadband Coalition, a diverse network working to improve broadband service throughout the state. Committed to access, affordability and equity for broadband, he was also director of innovation and resilience for the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

In 2020, Butcher helped lead efforts to pass a bond proposal to spend $15 million on expanding broadband access in Maine. According to Mills, “Andrew’s expertise in broadband and his wealth of experience in cross-community infrastructure and financial management position him well to take on this important new role.”

Nick Battista, chief policy officer at the Island Institute and ConnectMaine board chair, said, “Investments in broadband infrastructure are critical to growing our economy and creating jobs, particularly in rural communities. This is a smart, forward-looking investment in our communities. ConnectMaine is excited to be working with the Maine Connectivity Authority. Whether government institutions, internet service providers, or communities, Maine benefits when we all work together.”

Tim Schneider, general counsel for Tilson Technology Management, Inc. and Maine Connectivity Authority board chair, said, “I am thrilled that we’re able to partner with ConnectMaine to quickly put federal funding to work to expand broadband access in Maine. This is a down payment on the ambitious program of investment the Authority plans to roll out in 2022.”