$50M in grants available to expand high-speed Internet access

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced last week that the State of Illinois was releasing $50 in funding for matching grants of Connect Illinois, the state’s $420 statewide broadband expansion.

Connect Illinois is centered around three main outcomes: education, telehealth, and economic development.

Internet providers, nonprofits, local governments, and rural cooperatives can apply for the grants.

Governor J.B. Pritzker says the effort is bigger than making sure people can get on social media.

“This is about a small business owner having the tools that she needs to reach new customers. This is about an elderly couple’s ability to get access to medical experts anywhere in the nation, even if they live in a rural community. This is about giving children the ability to research their homework assignments online.”

The Governor’s office says it aims to provide universal access to basic broadband for homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions by 2024.

The idea is to help fund efforts by Internet providers, local governments and rural cooperatives to bring better service to all corners of the state says Lieutenant Governor, Juliana Stratton.

“With broadband expansion, farmers can better compete in the global marketplace. Small towns can better attract small businesses and those in need of healthcare can connect with a doctor.”

State Senator Jil Tracy, who’s District includes the south-side of Galesburg, southwestern Knox County, Warren, McDonough and western Fulton County, is a member of the Broadband Advisory Council.

She says that funding for new and improved infrastructure will give rural residents access to high-speed Internet, provide better e-learning opportunities for schools, and boost telehealth programs in areas that do not have easy access to specialized medical facilities and doctors.

Tracy adds that the expansion of broadband Internet will give our communities, farmers, and local businesses access to the technology they need to compete in today’s economy.

Grant responses for the first round of funding can be submitted through April 3.

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