ALBANY, GA (WALB) - City leaders are negotiating to continue a deal to help bring internet to rural areas of South Georgia.
The city's contract to help manage the Southwest Georgia Regional Information Technology Authority (SGRITA) is set to expire next month.
The city manager initially announced Albany would opt out, but later said a new deal was in the works.
More than a dozen towers have been set up around Southwest Georgia that are now bringing wireless internet to residents in rural areas.
It's a partnership that SGRITA officials hope to keep with Albany, because they see the Good Life City as a hub.
"Albany is the hub of Southwest Georgia, and the glove just fit with SGRITA to partner with the city of Albany," said Mitchell County Administrator Clark Harrell. "Albany has the intellect and the where for all with the people, the employees, through the water gas and light.
City commissioners authorized the city manager to terminate their contract with SGRITA and open up negotiations Wednesday.
Access to internet for rural areas of South Georgia opened up three weeks earlier, and so far nearly 100 people have signed up for the service.
But Harrell said this was just the beginning of what they're hoping to bring to folks outside of areas that big companies are willing to serve.
"The marketing piece of SGRITA has not come together just yet," he said. "That is forthcoming. We do have a goal of putting a thousand customers on by the end of the year. It is available to a lot of areas."
He said the project will not only bring technology to places it hasn't been available before, but will improve conditions for economic development.
"Economic development is so important. In rural Georgia we just feel left out," said Harrell. "And we had to do something to bring an economic development piece to our region."