Bill would offer tax incentives for rural broadband providers |

Bill would offer tax incentives for rural broadband providers

Legislation encourages rural technological expansion

Ryan Sheridan

In any race, it’s always good to have a head start.

For business, it’s doubly valuable.

And Moffat County has a major lead on other rural areas with its broadband infrastructure.

Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., and Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., introduced legislation aimed stimulating broadband investment in rural areas and underserved urban areas.

The proposed bill would give tax credits to companies that bring broadband to these communities.

It also looks to the future benefits of broadband technology by offering tax credits to companies and employees who participate in telework arrangements.

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“Basically, what this bill does is encourage the large telecommunications companies to bring broadband access to rural communities by offering a current year tax deduction for these investments,” said Blain Rethmeier, press secretary for McInnis. “There is no reason why people in rural communities should not have this technology.

“This tax credit would assist with some of the costs of bringing broadband to these communities.”

The initiative has been endorsed by AT&T, and passing it is high on McInnis’ agenda.

The bill was introduced to Congress on Monday evening, and has been assigned to the Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

Moffat County won’t be eligible for the first part of the bill, infrastructure investment tax credits, because the infrastructure is already here, putting Moffat County well ahead of the curve for rural areas.

The second component of the bill, the teleworking credits, would be seen in this area as soon the arrangement could be set up.

“The more we hear about broadband, we realize how much further ahead we really are,” said Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton. “The reason we are where we’re at is that we had the right people in the right places to take advantage of an opportunity, which they did.”

As rural communities move to modernize and expand their economies, broadband technology will be a integral part.

With the time needed for organization and construction, plus the time needed for the passage of bill if it is successful communities that are looking to join Moffat County will be several steps behind.

While they work to come abreast in this area, this county will already be involved in the next steps: Integration and economic diversification.

With the DS3 lines that are now in place in Moffat County, the area is several years ahead of other rural communities in technological infrastructure, as well as in the ability to attract businesses and industry looking to relocate to this county.

“With our situation, having locations right next to a power plant, having the broadband infrastructure, who can tell? It’s certainly an advantage,” Hampton said. “Hopefully it plays out for us as it should, and brings something valuable to the community.”

The technology is necessary for rural economies to survive and compete with larger cities, and with government help, this can become a reality before it’s too late, Rethmeier said.

“For this technology to reach communities like ours, it’s necessary to offer incentives. You’ll never bring the business case that’s desired without the infrastructure. This is a move in the right direction, and we’ve said that it was necessary for years,” Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said. “Rural communities won’t get this technology without these incentives.

“Our infrastructure is very progressive for this area, and Northwest Colorado. Our communities need to bring businesses in and diversify, and broadband will help us do that,” she said.

“We took that risk to bring this technology here ahead of other counties, and it will be a benefit to Moffat County and Northwest Colorado for many years to come.”

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