Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Gov. Whitmer announces high-speed internet increase initiative

October 12, 2020
<p>Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her second State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Jan. 29, 2020.</p>

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her second State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Jan. 29, 2020.

Photo by Connor Desilets | The State News

In order to create fair and equal access to the internet for every Michigander, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $12.7 million award last Thursday to projects across the state to help increase broadband internet access at the North American International Cyber Summit.

“In today’s society, the fastest way to create an even playing field for all is access to high-speed internet,” Gov. Whitmer said in the press release. “These broadband internet projects, along with additional infrastructure initiatives we are undertaking, will provide underserved communities in Michigan with high-speed internet service. This critical service is no longer a luxury but is a necessity that allows every Michigander to get a quality education and compete in the global economy.” 

The projects announced today to increase broadband internet were selected through the Connecting Michigan Communities (CMIC) grant program. The $12.7 million in awards is estimated to produce between $15.7 and $23.1 million in economic benefits to consumers annually.

These projects will provide access to over 10,900 households, businesses and community anchor institutions (CAI) in Michigan. The projects have all committed to helping close the divide to internet access and help provide digital literacy training materials.

Michiganders who cannot afford or cannot access broadband internet are unable to participate in many activities such as telhealth, virtual learning, telework and civic engagement, while those who do have broadband are able to do these every day.

According to the press release, approximately 1,243,339 Michigan households do not have a permanent fixed broadband connection at home resulting in $1.8B to $2.7B lost potential economic benefit.

This announcement from Gov. Whitmer builds on the launch lead by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II for the Connecting Michigan Taskforce (CMIT) to strengthen broadband infrastructure across Michigan.  

“The internet access divide is real and must be addressed to provide opportunity for all Michiganders to thrive,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist said in the press release. “This task-force will provide a coordinated state of Michigan approach to increasing broadband access and adoption in Michigan and finding the resources that are vital to providing affordable broadband access to households and businesses statewide.” 

A recommendation for a second round of CMIC grant awards will be announced later this month, these would provide another $5.3 million towards further broadband infrastructure in Michigan. Gov. Whitmer signed a budget last week that included an additional $14.3 million in grant funding for a third round of projects in 2021.

For more information about the CMIC Broadband Grants or Connecting Michigan Taskforce, visit www.michigan.gov/cmicgrant or www.michiganbusiness.org/broadband.

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