Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist announce plan to connect Michigan residents to high-speed internet

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II announced Monday that the State of Michigan has partnered with Connected Nati0n Michigan to lead the Broadband Infrastructure Audit and Validation Project over the past six coming months.

Officials say the project will use $5.2 million in federal CARES Act funding to perform a comprehensive accounting of Michigan’s high-speed internet service to identify gaps and provide a clearer picture as officials plan broaden access through bipartisan federal infrastructure funding.

The effort will help identify and map the precise location of existing high-speed internet assets in the state and areas where high-speed internet access is lacking. This includes over 65,000 miles of public right-of-way.

The funds were allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the purpose of aiding in the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. CARES funding from the Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) should be used to fund eligible activities related to the recovery and longer-term revitalization of low- and middle-income people.

Understanding where high-speed internet access and assets exist, and where there are gaps, will be “key to securing and prioritizing the $100 million in federal funding slated to come to Michigan for building internet infrastructure at broadband,” according to officials.

“In today’s society, the fastest way to create a level playing field and grow our economy is through affordable access to high-speed Internet,” Governor Whitmer said. “When we invest in this essential infrastructure, we can help businesses grow and reduce the cost of connecting Michigan residents to the internet so they can go to school, access health care, participate in the economy, etc. This essential service is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Today’s announcement will help us determine how to effectively expand high-speed Internet access in communities across our state. »

“Every person in Michigan should have access to fast, affordable, high-quality Internet service where they live so that all of our communities can thrive,” Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist said. “This effort will use a coordinated, statewide approach to gather information in every ZIP code that will allow us to increase internet access and adoption, and identify the resources we need. to connect every home and business in every Michigan community.”

Although funded by the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Broadband Infrastructure Audit and Validation Project will be implemented in partnership with the Department of Labor and Opportunity’s Office of Broadband Internet. Economics (LEO) of Michigan, completing many of the requirements of new federal programs that will be put on the desk.

Officials say states are required to identify all eligible locations for federal investments within their borders and this project will do just that. They say the sooner the state identifies these locations, the more efficient and accurate infrastructure plans can be and the sooner funds can be administered for new network deployments.

“To provide more Michiganians with equal opportunity and prepare Michigan for economic prosperity, we must remove barriers to the availability, affordability, and adoption of high-speed internet that disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income households,” said Susan Corbin, Director of LEO. . “This once-in-a-generation investment will help provide the framework to bridge the digital divide, break down barriers, and implement programs that help Michiganders access and adopt high-speed internet.”

“Broadband internet is critical to success in today’s world,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO and Michigan Strategic Fund President and Chairman Quentin Messer Jr. alongside our private sector partners in this effort, realizing that by working together to solve this statewide problem, collectively, we will generate greater economic impact by providing more than 10 million of our friends and neighbors who rely on us for consistent, reliable high-speed Internet connectivity throughout our great state.

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