By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
If the budget remains the same, BalsamWest FiberNet will get just shy of $450,000 from the FY2012 budget of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. But, according to Donald Rose, BalsamWest FiberNet board of directors, the company needed the money now and couldn’t wait for the budgets to be approved.
Tribal Council passed a resolution, submitted by Rose, in annual council on Thursday, Oct. 13 that will provide half ($228,000) of the amount to the company now. An additional disbursement of $228,000 will be made once the FY2012 budgets are passed.
BalsamWest FiberNet is a joint enterprise between Drake Enterprises and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Started in 2003, the company relates that it has currently installed over 300 miles of underground fiber in ten counties in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
“This money will be used to support cash flow requirements,” Rose told Council on Thursday. He said the company has had to use its money to support new business development.
Amy Walker, 3200 Acre Tract, inquired to Council about disbursement from the company back to the Tribe, “I’d like to know when we’re going to get a report on the finances and when something will be coming to the Tribe.”
Rose said a disbursement hasn’t occurred because the original business plan was flawed in that it anticipated more interest in long-term leases on fiber than has occurred. “Our problem now it growth…we’re growing so rapidly.”
He said the company is currently worth around $40 million and the Tribe has around $7 million invested. Rose requested a working session with Council in the near future so they can do a full report on the finances and workings of the company.
Rose was asked during Thursday’s meeting about a rumor that Drake Enterprises was selling fiber. “Drake is not interested in selling fiber at this point and neither are we. We’re not in the sell business right now.”
The mission statement of BalsamWest FiberNet is “to provide open and direct access to advanced telecommunications infrastructure in Western North Carolina, North Georgia and Eastern Tennessee at prices and quality levels enjoyed in major metropolitan areas of the U.S.”