Barnstable County ARPA Priorities – CCTC Comments to County Commissioners

On January 19th, 2022 the Infrastructure Committee of the Cape Cod Technology Council met to discuss sending a letter of support to the Barnstable County Commissioners and Assembly of Delegates recommending that a portion of ARPA monies received by the County be allocated to broadband deployment. The CCTC Board of Directors approved sending the following:

February 7, 2022
Sheila Lyons, Chair
Ronald Bergstrom, Vice Chair
Mark Forest, Commissioner
Barnstable County Commissioners
P.O. Box 427 / 3195 Main Street
Superior Court House
Barnstable, Massachusetts 02630 

RE: Barnstable County ARPA Priorities

Dear Commissioners,

I am writing on behalf of the Cape Cod Technology Council, Inc. (“CCTC”) in response to the request for input on spending the allotted Barnstable County funding in accordance with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), an act intended to lessen the economic impacts of the pandemic on the economy, public health, state and local governments, and businesses.

Founded in 1996, the CCTC is a membership based non-profit organization whose mission is to promote technology, education, and economic development on Cape Cod, the Islands, and Southeastern Massachusetts. Our membership includes local Cape, Islands, and Southeastern Massachusetts businesses, technology innovators, educational organizations, government entities, working professionals, and community leaders.

The purpose of the ARPA funding is to provide state and local governments with resources: (i) to support families and businesses struggling with the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic; (ii) to maintain vital public services; and (iii) to make investments that support a strong, resilient, and equitable recovery.

Investment in broadband infrastructure, which is among the priorities approved by the Commissioners in November, plainly is consistent with the purposes of the ARPA funding. The CCTC has long advocated for the fast, reliable, and affordable deployment of broadband technology on Cape Cod. The pandemic exposed deficiencies in current broadband service as the state and local governments, businesses and workers, teachers and students, health care providers and patients, and residents were suddenly dependent on their internet connections for vital services and were confronted with problems based upon speed, reliability, and cost. Investing in broadband will assist families, businesses, nonprofits, and government in ameliorating the impacts of the pandemic and making available public services. Beyond that, investing in broadband, including support for digital inclusion, will support a strong, resilient, and equitable economy. There is convincing evidence based upon studies and the experience of communities like Chattanooga, Tennessee that access to affordable, high-quality broadband makes significant contributions to the economic vitality of communities.

While broadband should remain a priority, the CCTC recommends that transportation and renewable energy should also be priorities for ARPA funding.

Transportation is responsible for over 40% of the greenhouse gases fueling the climate change crisis. The Cape Cod Commission has identified transportation as a top priority in its Climate Action Plan. Besides threatening our health and safety with exhaust, auto congestion on Cape Cod’s roadways is detrimental to our critical tourism economy. Due to pandemic-related increases in year-round populations and tourism, Cape Cod’s roadways are more congested than ever. Relieving the congestion and transitioning away from combustion engines by funding the expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure, ride sharing options, municipal fleet electrification, and walking/riding infrastructure will lessen the economic impacts of the pandemic-related congestion on the Cape’s economy and public health. In addition, funding local governments and businesses transitioning to electric vehicles would be a priority in line with the Act’s intentions “to lessen the economic impacts of the pandemic on local governments and businesses.”

Electric needs will increase exponentially as transportation and heating solutions transition from fossil fuel-based to electric. The state’s mandated greenhouse gas reduction and climate change goals will necessitate the conversion. In order to meet these goals and support a resilient recovery, it is essential that those demands be met from renewable energy sources.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments.  On behalf of the CCTC, I respectfully request that in considering the distribution of ARPA funds, the Commissioners primarily prioritize broadband followed by transportation and renewable energy.

Jennifer Reid, President

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