Bloomington-Normal EDC Receives $50,000 to Expand Broadband Internet Access | Policy

BLOOMINGTON – The Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council has received a $50,000 state grant to expand high-speed Internet access.

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“The internet can be the great equalizer and we know that those who don’t have it for whatever reason are sure to fall behind in the future,” said Casey Peterson, business retention and expansion manager at ‘EDC. “This really is our chance as a community to show the state that we’ve assembled a great team and are ready to work with any ISP that wants to expand their network in our community.”

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced the grant on Monday as part of a second wave of the Regional Engagement for Adoption and Digital Equity (READY) program, which aims to address the issues of equity and inclusion through broadband access. .

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The money awarded is part of Pritzker’s $400 million Connect Illinois program – which is funded through the 2019 Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure program – with the goal of expanding broadband capabilities at scale of the state by 2024. The grants are intended for community and regional groups that can address inequities and coverage gaps statewide that may not be resolved by the growth of the state’s broadband network. State.

While nothing specific was chosen, Peterson said grant funds must be spent on physical broadband infrastructure and the funds themselves will not be able to cover all costs. The organization plans to research “creative ways” to use the funds for a project to build wired broadband or low- or no-fee bill payments.

“We are happy for the project, but again, this is more of a signal to the state, as they are looking to fund broadband projects in the future so that we can work effectively,” Peterson said. “We have ideas for future projects because not only [does the state] have $320 million right now, they’re probably going to get well over $1 billion from the federal government, probably in federal infrastructure funding for broadband and we want to make sure we’re on their radar.

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