CHICAGO – September 13, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that four more Illinois broadband projects have been awarded a total of $73 million in federal funding to build and improve high-tech infrastructure throughout the state. Over $16 million in funding from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program helped secure the federal awards, which bring Illinois’ American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) broadband funding total to more than $244 million.
“Broadband access is critical to help grow the Illinois economy. That’s why we’ve aggressively competed for federal stimulus money to improve our state’s high-tech infrastructure,” Governor Quinn said. “As of today, Illinois has received over $240 million in federal broadband funding, which will put hundreds of highly skilled Illinoisans to work.”
Together, the four projects will create approximately 500 direct jobs and put more than $96 million public and private dollars into the Illinois economy.
“Broadband is an important economic tool, and too many Illinoisans lack adequate and affordable access. Our homes and businesses need affordable access to high speed internet connections, in the same way our homes and businesses need services like water, gas and electricity,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Today’s funding will increase access to broadband, create jobs in Illinois and help close the digital divide.”
Convergence Technologies, Inc. received a $9.1 million federal award matched with $700,000 in state capital funds to offer last-mile wireless broadband and digital phone service (VoIP) in Cook, Kankakee and Will Counties in Illinois, and Lake, Newton and Porter Counties in Indiana. The project will benefit tens of thousands of residents, businesses and community institutions, and create 50 jobs.
Norlight, Inc. received an $11.1 million federal award matched with $450,000 in state capital funds leveraged with $350,000 in private investment to expand a wireless network in 13 unserved and underserved areas in central Illinois. This project will benefit more than 9,700 businesses and 804 community institutions, and will create more than 36 jobs.
Northern Illinois University, on behalf of the Illinois Broadband Opportunity Partnership – Northwest Region, received $46.1 million in federal dollars matched with $14 million in state capital funds and $8.5 million in private funding to build an 870-mile fiber-optic network across nine-counties, creating 300 direct jobs. This project will interconnect with the DeKalb County broadband project, which received stimulus funding in February.
MyWay Village, will use its $4.7 million federal award matched with $1.2 million in state capital funds leveraged with $890,000 in private investment to engage thousands of senior citizens and people with disabilities in 23 public housing communities to learn the basics of e-mail, Web access and other practical computer skills, creating over 100 jobs. MyWay Village has partnered with local Workforce Investment Act organizations to help seniors who develop their digital literacy skills to find part time work.
All of the federal funding was awarded through a highly competitive process led by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Seventeen Illinois projects have so far secured broadband funding from the USDA and the US Department of Commerce. All together, they represent more than 3,000 jobs and $350 million of investment in Illinois.
A longtime advocate of broadband-based opportunities in Illinois, Governor Quinn made sure funding for technology projects was included in the Illinois Jobs Now! public works plan.
For more information, visit Broadband.Illinois.gov.