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Illinois releases first phase of getting high-speed internet everywhere in the state

SPRINGFIELD (WREX) — Illinois is releasing $50 million in funding for the first round of matching grants of Connect Illinois, the state’s $420 million statewide broadband expansion.

Gov. Pritzker said Wednesday it's an effort to deliver on a 4-year plan to deliver broadband to homes, businesses and community institutions like hospitals and libraries.

“I want to be clear: This isn’t about a person’s ability to check Facebook," Gov. Pritzker said. "This is about a small business owner having the tools 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. In short, this is about the right of all our communities to access health care, education, and economic opportunity.”

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.

The Notice of Funding Opportunity is available online at: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/AboutDCEO/GATA/Pages/2366-1333.aspx.

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.

Breane Lyga

Breane Lyga is the content manager at 13 WREX. She joined the team in 2015 as the 5, 6 and 10PM news producer after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She was 13 WREX’s assignment editor from 2017 to 2018.

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