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Illinois communities getting broadband infrastructure assistance

(WTVG)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 8:15 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2022 at 9:19 PM CST
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Ill. (KWQC) - Illinois communities are preparing for a broadband infrastructure investment after Governor J.B. Pritzker announced last month they’re pushing for internet access to all communities in the state. This is the Accelerate Illinois program, led by the Illinois Office of Broadband and the Benton Institute and funded by Heartland Forward.

Heartland Forward is one group helping to make sure everyone can get that much-needed support. Chief Program Officer Angie Cooper says it’s crucial everyone gets equal and available access to the internet. “This impacts education. This impacts our workforce it impacts how you search for a job, train for a job, do a job. It impacts our healthcare, whether we’re getting telehealth services or other things. So, really, it’s important for Illinois communities to number one- understand the impacts of the federal infrastructure dollars,” says Cooper.

Twelve communities will go through training with the Benton Institute to know how to best apply and prepare for the new infrastructure. The program will be 14 weeks to “turn available public broadband funding into sustainable broadband access.” Cooper continues, “a lot of communities are dealing with so many things, they’re stretched, they don’t have the resources and capacity... It will be extremely impactful for these communities to put a concrete plan together about how to strategically use these dollars.”

Governor Pritzker says reliable internet “is not a luxury – it’s a necessity for healthcare, success in school, and to compete in a 21st century economy.”

The federal infrastructure bill is additionally giving each state at least 100 million dollars, as a part of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure plan. Cooper says the exact amount each community is getting and where it will go is still being decided.

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