Greensboro to Use $10.6 Million in Federal Grants to Improve 911 System, Add Electric Buses and Expand High-Speed ​​Internet | local government

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KENWYN CARANNE

GREENSBORO — Best emergency response. More vocational training. Support for entrepreneurs. Attract well-paying jobs.

That’s what city and federal officials touted on Tuesday when they announced four projects using $10.6 million funded by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The landmark bill President Joe Biden signed into law in November is historic in its scope and scale, with $1.2 trillion in funding to help fix America’s ailing roads and bridges while combating the climate change and expanding internet access.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan, U.S. Representative Kathy Manning and city officials presented summaries of the projects at an afternoon press conference.

Here’s how the money will be spent:

• $3 million for a computer-assisted dispatch system for Guilford Metro 911. The money would pay for a new system “that will help us take advantage of new technologies as they become available,” said Melanie Neal, director from Guilford Metro 911.

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This technology would allow 911 dispatchers to receive photos and videos of callers via cell phone.

“Next-gen 911 technology will allow us to not only receive those photos and videos, but also send them to our responders in the field so they can see who they’re looking for,” Neal said.

The new system could be fully implemented within a year or two, she said.

• $3 million for buses, facilities and equipment. The money will allow the city to add four new electric buses to its fleet as well as the means to charge them. The additions will give the city a total of 21 electric buses — or 38% of its current fixed-route fleet — said Kevin Elwood, spokesman for the Greensboro Transit Agency.

“They are four times more efficient than current diesel buses. They offer zero emissions and noise pollution is virtually zero,” he said.

• $3 million for the Greensboro Innovation District, a project to attract business and create well-paying jobs to a 2.5-mile strip in the South Elm Street area, as well as boost internet access broadband.

“We saw, especially with COVID, that there were people living in a broadband desert,” Vaughan said. “So the fact that we can bring technology into areas that currently don’t have it, it’s important for school, it’s important for health and it’s important for business.”

The money will help revitalize and attract new businesses to neighborhoods such as Arlington Park, Ole Asheboro and Asheboro Square, said Rodney Roberts, the city’s acting chief information officer.

• $1.6 million for workforce development initiatives, including technology and support services. This money will help improve community programs within the historically marginalized communities of Greensboro, High Point and Guilford County.

The money will also provide employment and training services to people who have been unable to secure “meaningful or livable wage employment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chris Rivera, executive director of a public-private organization called GuilfordWorks.

Vaughan said the federal grant money will allow the city “to do things that we couldn’t do through the normal budget process.”

“Everyone’s community was fighting over taxpayers’ money,” she said.

Contact Kenwyn Caranna at 336-373-7082 and follow @kcaranna on Twitter.

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