Accelerating Broadband in Illinois and the NTIA NOFO
In 2019, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly committed $420 million to broadband expansion through the state’s historic $45 billion Rebuild Illinois infrastructure package. At the time, this was the single largest state commitment to a broadband matching grant program ever. Since then, Illinois has established its Office of Broadband, rolled out a full suite of complementary digital equity, community engagement, and planning programming, and benefited from the active engagement of the state’s Broadband Advisory Council. Of course, the world has changed, too – with unprecedented federal investment in broadband access, adoption, and digital equity. In this Fiber for Breakfast with Matt Schmit, Chair of the Illinois Broadband Advisory Council, the conversation will cover this ground, as well as the recently-posted NOFO for NTIA’s Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program.
Matt Schmit serves as Director of the Illinois Office of Broadband within the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity and Chair of the Illinois Broadband Advisory Council. In these roles, Matt oversees administration of the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program, as well as related programming in digital equity, local planning, and regional engagement. Prior to his service in Illinois, Matt engaged public policy from various perspectives and wearing different hats: as former Minnesota state legislator, leading on such issues as infrastructure and economic competitiveness; as University of Minnesota researcher, published author, and graduate school instructor; and as independent consultant. In office, Matt lead the push for ubiquitous broadband access through creation of Minnesota’s Office of Broadband Development and related Border to Border Broadband grant program.