A $444,787 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce will be used to improve high-speed internet connectivity in Santa Ynez and other parts of northern Santa Barbara County, Congressman Salud Carbajal, D-24th District, has announced.

The grant, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan, the landmark COVID-19 relief bill Carbajal helped get signed into law in March 2021, was awarded in partnership to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the Economic Alliance Foundation (EconAlliance).

The funding will help expand high-speed internet access in North Santa Barbara County to support business development and economic growth, as well as sectors that are relying increasingly on broadband access like agriculture, health care, and commercial space.

“Whether it’s a small business needing to bring its goods to market or a student needing to complete their assignments, a sufficient internet connection can make the difference between success and failure,” Carbajal said.

“And in growing sectors of the Central Coast’s economy like telehealth, precision agriculture, or commercial space, we need all of our communities to have the connectivity needed to compete,” he said. “I’m proud to see legislation I fought to get passed last year funding this critical project.

“Together with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s record investment in high-speed broadband, we’re going to make great strides to close the digital divide on the Central Coast.”

“Partnering with EconAlliance on this project and receiving this federal grant brings us closer to improving internet access throughout Northern Santa Barbara County,” said Kenneth Kahn, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

“We look forward to producing a sound plan and working with area cities to make broadband connectivity a reality in our community,” he said.

Rep. Carbajal specifically pushed the U.S. Department of Commerce to approve the grant, citing the impacts that substandard internet access is having on local hospitals, students, agriculture, small businesses, and Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The American Rescue Plan has provided more than $1 billion in economic relief and development funding to the Central Coast.