Gov. Pritzker (D-IL) Announces $50 Million First Round of Matching Funds in Statewide Broadband Expansion

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Governor JB Pritzker (D-IL) announced that Illinois releasing $50 million in funding for the first round of matching grants of Connect Illinois, the state's $420 million statewide broadband expansion. Applicants are required to provide at least 50% of non-state funding, effectively doubling the size of the nation's largest state competitive grant program to expand high-speed internet. Applicants are anticipated to include internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments. Grant responses for the initial $50 million round of funding can be submitted through Friday, April 3, 2020. Up to $5 million per project will be available during the first round, and subsequent rounds will follow over the course of the next several years. Connect Illinois is centered around three main outcomes: education, telehealth and economic development. It aims to provide universal access to basic broadband for homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions by 2024. The Rebuild Illinois capital plan dedicated $420 million toward broadband expansion — $400 million for the grant program and $20 million to strengthen the Illinois Century Network. The matching requirements in the grant program will leverage state funds to attract at least an additional $400 million from internet service providers.  

"What makes Connect Illinois sing is its historic investment in infrastructure coupled with meaningful community engagement in broadband planning and capacity building," said Adrianne Benton Furniss, Executive Director, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. "Community leaders of all stripes should play an important role because they are closest to local needs and have earned peoples' confidence and trust. Their voice in the creation of local broadband access, adoption, digital inclusion, and utilization strategies will help to ensure the success of Governor Pritzker's long-term economic development plans for the state of Illinois."

"The Connect Illinois Broadband Strategic Plan rightly recognizes that ubiquitous broadband usage is a necessary part of delivering Illinois' future progress in agriculture, energy, health care, information, manufacturing, and transportation," said Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Senior Fellow Jonathan Sallet. "That's why it's so important that the Illinois broadband plan seeks progress on deployment, plus digital skills and equity."

Gov. Pritzker Announces $50 Million First Round of Matching Funds in Statewide Broadband Expansion Notice of Funding Opportunity