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Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces $50M in state grants for broadband projects across Illinois
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 Chicago Tribune by Jamie Munks
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced $50 million in state grants for broadband projects Tuesday, which will expand internet access for thousands of businesses, homes and farms across Illinois.
The state grants will be combined with $65 million in matching funds for a total of $115 million for 28 projects spread across the state, aimed at bringing broadband to more than 26,000 homes, farms and businesses.
The first round of funding will send nearly $1.9 million to Cook County for a project to expand the Chicago Southland Fiber Network’s high-speed connectivity to additional underserved communities, including education campus facilities with limited online resources.
Pritzker last year signed into law a massive statewide infrastructure plan, coined “Rebuild Illinois,” which dedicates $400 million to increasing access to high-speed internet connectivity across the state.
Pritzker’s goal in the “Connect Illinois” broadband expansion plan aims to create “near ubiquitous broadband access” across the state. Much of the broadband funding announced Wednesday is destined for downstate projects.
“I’m not willing to accept that only Chicago can have high-speed internet access,” Pritzker said at a Wednesday news conference. “Our whole state must prosper. The disadvantages that persist when our communities are left out of opportunity demand an ambitious effort to bring them to a close.”
Pritzker was in Geneseo, where a local project by Geneseo Communications will receive a $5 million grant to extend improved high-speed internet to businesses, farms and homes in northwestern Illinois.
Jamie Munks covers Illinois government from Springfield. She’s worked at papers in Illinois, Upstate New York, Las Vegas and Memphis. She grew up in Chicago’s northwest suburbs and New England, and has dual bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science from Syracuse University. In her spare time, she hikes, travels and roots for the Cubs.