Elgin, Texas to Create Outdoor Classroom with T-Mobile Hometown Grant

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Elgin will soon convert an existing concrete slab at Veterans Memorial Park into an outdoor classroom space with picnic tables, shade structure, bulletin board, and free Wi-Fi after the town received a $ 50,000 grant from T-Mobile.

“Providing an outdoor classroom space with free Wi-Fi helps all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds to access the internet, which has proven to be a necessary utility for everyday life. Said City Manager Tom Mattis. “We selected this park for its central location, proximity to local nonprofits, and the thriving events and programs existing in the space.”

On September 23, T-Mobile announced that it had awarded grants to 25 small towns to launch community development projects to revitalize their public spaces and take advantage of what makes them unique. The Hometown Grants program is part of the operator’s commitment to bring 5G to rural America.

“We are absolutely delighted and honored to be the only city in Texas to be named a recipient, and we look forward to moving forward with this project,” said Mattis.

Other small towns in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Washington have also received grants, according to T-Mobile.

Elgin Mayor Ron Ramirez said the town currently has two public places with free Wi-Fi, and for a community of around 10,000 this was unacceptable. “We are pleased to be working with T-Mobile and this grant to create a welcoming and comfortable space for our entire community with free access to Wi-Fi,” he said.

Mattis said installation of the project will begin in 2022 and the space is expected to open this fall in conjunction with the city’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

“It became very evident during the pandemic that Elginites struggle to have reliable internet access, leaving children unable to access school work, families unable to apply for jobs, and people passing by. more isolated time, ”Mattis said. “This project is intended as a gathering space for all ages where Internet access is free, easy and comfortable.

T-Mobile partnered with Main Street America and Smart Growth America to determine the 25 grant recipients based on details and completeness of city submissions, community impact of proposed projects, and project viability. , among other factors. The winners announced are the first to come. New grant recipients will be selected and awarded on a quarterly basis, so cities with fewer than 50,000 residents are eligible and encouraged to apply, according to T-Mobile.

“From beautifying historic main streets to building brand new retail spaces, pop-ups and parks… it’s all part of our commitment to rural America, and we can’t wait to see all of these plans. creatives come to life, ”Jon Freier, executive vice president of Consumer Group at T-Mobile, said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to be working with T-Mobile and Smart Growth America to support these inspiring projects in rural communities across the country,” said Main Street America President and CEO Patrice Frey. “These grant recipients demonstrate the creativity and passion for place that we have seen in Main Street communities for decades, and we are delighted to see their projects take shape.

Over the next five years, T-Mobile plans to hire 7,500 new employees in small towns and rural communities and provide $ 25 million in grants for community development projects.

“The possibilities are endless when technology is paired with parks and open spaces,” Mattis said. “With this effort, we are making time outdoors more accessible and convenient for all residents. We hope this is the start of a long and successful partnership between T-Mobile and the City of Elgin.

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