AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After House Bill Five got passed at the state level and the creation of the office of Broadband development the City of Amarillo began to look at how they can improve connectivity for the community.

On Wednesday, the COA and AT&T celebrated the groundbreaking of a fiber internet network. The $24 million public-private partnership between AT&T and the COA will bring network connectivity to more than 22,000 households.

“This 24 million dollar infrastructure project will open doors for a lot of people, and ultimately it means increasing our workforce so that our businesses can grow partly due to kids,” Mayor Ginger Nelson said. “The better educated our kids our than the better educated out workforce is, because those kids are going to be a part of our workforce.”

Assistant City Manager and CIO, Rich Gagnon mentioned that students being able to have reliable connections allows them to achieve in school and beyond.

“I talked to parents who said their children are connected as long as their data plan last on their phone. That doesn’t put their students on equal footing with the rest of the world,” Gagnon said. “This now gives them the opportunity as the mayor said to be competitive in the fifth grade, to graduate high school, to take advantage of the thrive program and get those free 60 hours of college education.”

He adds that now that they are bringing reliable connections into the community the next step is digital literacy education.

President of the Barrio neighborhood planning committee Teresa Kennedy talked about what she hopes to see out of this partnership.

“Really what we want to do is allow a lot of people to have access to the internet and be able to receive great services for their children, as well as the adults in the family and the teenagers,” Kennedy said. “This program will allow the family to get these services especially for free for over 22,000 households will be able to get this service and that is such a great benefit to the Barrio neighborhood.”

Kennedy added that thanks to the AT&T foundation grant and the expansion of connectivity the Alamo center will be able to offer free classes and other resources starting in April.

AT&T will also be offering its affordable connectivity federal program that will allow low-cost broadband for households that qualify.

To see more on the program and who qualifies you can find information on the AT&T website.