Author: Kathy Siebrasse
Whiteside County among Inaugural Accelerate Illinois Program Cohorts
Gov. Pritzker Announces $47 Million in Broadband Capital Investments
SPRINGFIELD – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband recently announced $47 million in funding for 22 projects in every region of the state through the second round of Connect Illinois, the state’s broadband expansion plan.
To promote broadband access, the Illinois Office of Broadband is making $350 million in funding available through a third round of grants, which will be accepted and awarded on a rolling basis through 2024, or until funds are depleted. Funding for Connect Illinois is made possible by Governor Pritzker’s bipartisan $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital plan, the first comprehensive infrastructure program in Illinois in nearly a decade, as well as federal broadband funding available through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Round Two funding includes $23 million in Connect Illinois grant awards matched by $24 million in non-state funding for a total of over $47 million, with plans to expand broadband access to approximately 13,000 homes, businesses, farms, and community institutions across Illinois – through 22 new projects, with at least one in every region of the state.
“Thanks to these investments, thousands more families and businesses will have access to the economic opportunity, education, and healthcare that come with 21st century connectivity,” said Pritzker. “Connect Illinois is all about opening doors and closing gaps for our residents, delivering demonstrable change to people’s lives and real opportunity for new business development and new jobs. I’m grateful to our partners in making this round of projects possible – and with another $350 million already available for the next round, this impact is just the beginning.”
The second round of Connect Illinois grant awards includes 14 different internet service providers, rural cooperatives, and local governments– a diverse group of recipients representing every region of the state, with projects supporting fully scalable broadband infrastructure that will serve these areas for decades into the future.
Round Two Grant Awards:
Adams Telsystem Inc. $1,252,041 Adams, Pike
Bspeedy Wireless $152,108 Richland, Edwards, Jasper, Wabash, Lawrence,
Charter Spectrum – Bella Vista $29,555 Madison
Charter Spectrum – Briars $99,556 St Clair
Charter Spectrum – Equus Lane $109,320 Madison
Charter Spectrum – Huey $107,416 Clinton
Charter Spectrum – New Minden $250,198 Washington
Charter Spectrum – Nichols Woods $50,750 Winnebago, Clay, Crawford, Wayne
Comcast – Leisure Time Est $630,903 Vermilion
Comcast – Sterling
East Moline CUSD
Jo-Carroll Energy $4,688,840 Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside
Mediacom – Dewey
Mediacom – Valley View Est $52,434 Rock Island
Mediacom – Wolf Creek $45,905 LaSalle
Metro Communications $292,118 Livingston
ProTek Communications $2,000,000 Williamson
Strada Communications $5,000,000 Rock Island, Whiteside
Village of Palatine
WKT Telecom Cooperative
“Connect Illinois grants continue to help expand broadband infrastructure across the state, bringing resources to communities that need it most,” said Acting DCEO Director, Sylvia I. Garcia. “We are investing in meaningful capital projects to provide high-speed, reliable internet to households and businesses that have lacked access – boosting education, jobs, and economic opportunity for communities across Illinois in the process.”
Grant applications were reviewed and evaluated on a competitive basis, with proposals evaluated in seven categories: project impact; nonstate match and demonstration of need; community support; project readiness; project viability and sustainability; affordability and adoption assistance; and open access, shared use and business strategy.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled for the 400 households in the Village of Flanagan who will be connected to essential, high quality broadband,” said Rep. Tom Bennett. “This Rebuild Illinois investment is making an incredible impact on the everyday lives of families in my district.”
“We all know about children who are unable to complete schoolwork because internet access isn’t widely available,” said Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island). “Rebuild Illinois’ investment in East Moline School District to install a network of 985 wireless Wi-Fi access points will go a long way in making sure that a relic of the past.”
”We are very excited about the state’s continued commitment to broadband expansion throughout Illinois, especially in the southwestern region,” said Gary Hoelscher, President, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois. “Increasing equity in access, adoption, and use is an important step in ensuring people can pursue work and education opportunities despite other challenges they may face. Broadband growth also spurs economic development, which is a win for all.”
The $350 million available through the third round largely mirrors requirements of the first two notice of funding opportunities, with the exception that grant matching minimums will no longer be a requirement for applicants. The program’s merit review process places value on qualified projects that also include significant nonstate match, thereby incentivizing applicants to contribute as much nonstate match as possible. To promote program efficiency and effectiveness, the maximum grant award will increase from $5 million to $10 million, with applicants invited to seek multiple grant awards over the next several years
“Through our participation in the Illinois Connected Communities program, we were given the tools and framework we needed to create a vision for our community’s broadband needs, and we’re happy our plan is coming to fruition,” said Village of Flanagan President Jeff Walace. “We look forward to working together with the State of Illinois and Metro Communications to bring high-speed broadband access to all our residents.”
To complement its historic $420 million broadband capital investment, the State of Illinois has introduced an increasingly robust portfolio of programs focused on local capacity building and planning (Illinois Connected Communities and Accelerate Illinois), regional engagement and resource integration (Broadband READY), digital literacy and skills building (Digital Navigators), and used computer refurbishment and distribution (Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network). These programs often combine state grant funding with stakeholder collaboration and expert consultation to put Illinois communities, organization, and households in a strong position to benefit from historic state and federal investment in broadband infrastructure and digital equity.
For more on Round 3 Connect Illinois, and Round 2 awards and other grant programs, please visit DCEO’s website or follow it on social at @IllinoisDCEO.
iFiber’s November-December E-Newsletter
Read the November-December 2021 issue of iFiber’s e-newsletter
Meet iFiber’s Support Team
Scenes from “Meet in the Middle” at The Utility Expo
iFiber was a proud sponsor and participant in Planet Underground’s “Meet in the Middle” at The Utility Expo Sept. 28-30, in Louisville, KY. Planet Underground’s mission is simple: Be the spark that powers change in underground utility damage prevention. One of the ways it acts to accomplish its mission is to produce peer-to-peer learning events such as The Jobsite and The Roundtable. Both of these popular events were held at The Utility Expo. Planet Underground is a knowledge sharing organization whose primary focus is underground utility damage prevention. It offers media and networking events that provide valuable peer-to peer learning experiences. Damage prevention is the responsibility of excavators and underground utility owners. As an underground utility owner, iFiber is dedicated to damage prevention and in continuation with iFiber’s partnership with JULIE, Inc., it supports Planet Underground’s mission. JULIE is a non-profit corporation dedicated to keeping Illinois safe and connected.
iFiber E-Newsletter: Fall 2021
iFiber Request for Proposal
iFiber Request for Proposal Documents
iFiber Participates in The Utility Expo Sept. 28-30
iFiber is a proud sponsor and participant in Planet Underground’s “Meet in the Middle” at The Utility Expo Sept. 28-30, in Louisville, KY. Planet Underground’s mission is simple: Be the spark that powers change in underground utility damage prevention. One of the ways it acts to accomplish its mission is to produce peer-to-peer learning events such as The Jobsite and The Roundtable. Both of these popular events will be held The Utility Expo.
Planet Underground is a knowledge sharing organization whose primary focus is underground utility damage prevention. It offers media and networking events that provide valuable peer-to peer learning experiences. Damage prevention is the responsibility of excavators and underground utility owners. Planet Underground believes communication, planning and cooperation between the two sides can go a long way, but that education is an important key in damage prevention. “Detection and avoidance” are one in the same and Planet Underground educates owners and excavators through video, print, live broadcast, and face-to-face gatherings.
As an underground utility owner, iFiber is dedicated to damage prevention and in continuation with iFiber’s partnership with JULIE, Inc., it supports Planet Underground’s mission. JULIE is a non-profit corporation dedicated to keeping Illinois safe and connected. It offers message processing and damage prevention education service for the safety and protection of underground facilities and the community. JULIE Inc. neither owns nor marks any underground utility lines.
To maximize protection from excavation damage, owners and excavators need to understand in a general way how utility systems work, what they are built of, how they appear above the surface, how they are mapped, the science behind detection technologies and the variables that impact accurate designation from the surface. The term “excavators” encompasses a wide-ranging group of companies and individuals, many which are never going to know this information. However, a majority of JULIE, Inc. one-call notifications are generated by owners and companies working for owners. Owners need knowledge of all utility systems, not just their system. The largest percentage of underground utility damages consist of an owner striking another owner.
iFiber is proud to be a sponsor in Planet Underground’s “Meet in the Middle” at The Utility Expo in Kentucky this September and hopes to see you there! For registration information, visit https://www.planetunderground.tv/meet-in-the-middle-planet-underground-at-the-utility-expo-2021/.
Call JULIE Before You Dig!
Using ARP Funds for Broadband Development
Broadband Essential to Economy
Strong, reliable broadband networks like iFiber’s have been key to keeping the U.S. connected for more than a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven even more broadband’s essential role in local, national and global economies. Details on a new survey of economic development experts about the value of broadband and digital technology as development tools, are featured in Broadband Communities magazine: https://www.bbcmag.com/…/broadband-essential-to-post…