June 24, 2020 Newsletter

News from the ITA

June 24, 2020

 

Governor Pritzker Awards $50 Million in Connect Illinois Broadband Grants

ITA Companies Receive $31 Million in Round One

Governor Pritzker today announced $50 million in Connect Illinois grants to 18 internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments for 28 projects touching every region of the state. The $50 million awarded in the first round of the grant program will be matched by $65 million in nonstate funding for a total of $115 million, with plans to expand access for more than 26,000 homes, businesses, farms, and community institutions across Illinois. ITA member companies were awarded $31 million of the total $50 million awarded in round one of the Connect Illinois grant program.

In his press release, Gov. Pritzker said "Connect Illinois is about the right of all our communities to access health care, education, and economic opportunity - because in the 21st century, all those rights are tied to digital connectivity. The unacceptable consequences of disparities in broadband access were clear before the COVID-19 pandemic - and over the last few months, we've seen firsthand what it means when a small business that had to close its doors has no online shop, what it means when an elderly couple has no safe way to get medical advice at a distance, what it means when a child has no ability to access homework assignments online. This work has never been more urgent - the disadvantages that persist when our communities are left out of opportunity demand ambitious efforts to bring them to a close."

The Connect Illinois grants are aimed at facilitating the expansion of high-speed Internet to unserved and underserved areas of the state. Pritzker made improving broadband access one of his top priorities. The funds are being released as part of the state's $420 million statewide broadband expansion through the Connect Illinois grant program. 

Applicants were eligible for up to $5 million per project and they were required to provide a non-state funding match of at least 50 percent, more than doubling the first-round impact of the nation's largest state broadband matching grant program. Funds will be used for projects that build or increase fiber infrastructure to support broadband access. This in turn will create jobs across the state and offer new economic opportunities for Illinois residents.

A map showing the grant awards and the descriptions of the projects awarded grants is available on the Connect Illinois website.