The first grants under the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program were announced, with almost $10 million going to 19 rural counties around North Carolina to expand access to broadband. The GREAT program was established by legislative Republicans in the 2018 budget, a budget that was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper, and set aside $10 million to be awarded as a series of matching grants to internet service providers and electric cooperatives to provide broadband to unserved rural areas. It is designed to significantly expedite the deployment of broadband by encouraging partnerships and competition between providers and cooperatives to provide citizens with improved choices and better value for service. Twenty-one applicants in 19 counties will receive grants under the GREAT program, totaling $9,855,026. This will bring new broadband access to 9,800 households as well as more than 590 businesses, agricultural operations and community establishments including libraries, schools and hospitals. The 19 counties receiving grants under the GREAT program include Jackson, Swain and Macon counties.