Study: Illinois’ broadband investment will help address 'digital divide,' 'pay for itself'

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A $400 million investment in broadband internet infrastructure approved by Illinois lawmakers in 2019 could pay for itself by added tax revenues alone within four years of completion of construction. That's according to a report by the University of Illinois Project for Middle Class Renewal and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, which estimated an additional 238,000 households, businesses and farms would have new internet accessibility as a result of the state funding combined with at least $100 million in new federal funding and other nonstate funds. The Illinois Economic Policy Institute is a nonprofit research organization with strong ties to organized labor, while the Project for Middle Class Renewal is housed in the University of Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations and has a mission of "elevating public discourse" on worker-related issues to promote middle-class jobs and reduce poverty. Their report found the broadband expansion has several implications, from economic impacts in the billions of dollars to social impacts such as access to telemedicine that are more difficult to quantify. From a direct economic standpoint, the broadband expansion will boost worker wages by $843 million annually, according to the study, while creating over 25,000 short- and long-term jobs.

Study: State's broadband investment will help address 'digital divide,' 'pay for itself' Illinois broadband expansion will create 25,000 jobs, researchers say (Chicago Tribune)