U.S. Department of Commerce invests $3 million in CARES Act recovery assistance to expand high-speed internet in Michigan’s Upper Eastern Peninsula

U.S. Department of Commerce invests $3 million in CARES Act recovery assistance to expand high-speed internet in Michigan’s Upper Eastern Peninsula

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant to Merit Network, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan, to support the construction of a 70-mile fiber optic infrastructure and a mile in between that will expand high-speed Internet access in the region.

The project will extend high-speed Internet service to remote and underserved areas of Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties and support the regional Leaving Infrastructure for Transforming the Upper Peninsula (LIFT-UP) initiative, which provides intermediate infrastructure to service. Local Internet. suppliers. This EDA investment will be matched by $2.3 million in local funds and is expected to create 50 jobs, maintain 10 jobs, and generate $5 million in private investment.

“President Biden is committed to harnessing the full power of the federal government to ensure that every community recovers better from this pandemic, and that means ensuring that every American has access to affordable high-speed internet service,” said the Secretary of Commerce. Gina M. Raimondo. “This critical infrastructure investment will serve as a much-needed down payment on the additional $100 million coming to Michigan to expand high-speed internet access through President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure act. In particular, this $3 million EDA award will bring greater economic resilience to Michigan’s Upper Eastern Peninsula by providing critical mid-mile broadband infrastructure that will help drive economic growth, support the telecommuting and providing access to distance learning opportunities.

“The Economic Development Administration supports community strategies to accelerate economic recovery from the pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will support the installation of more than 70 miles of underground conduit and fiber optic cable, providing high-speed Internet access to remote and underserved communities in the state’s Upper Eastern Peninsula.”

“This federal investment will expand reliable high-speed Internet access that meets the needs of residents of Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “I am grateful to our federal partners for prioritizing investments in high-speed Internet, which is essential for families and small businesses. Achieving this goal will continue to grow Michigan’s economy, support telecommuting and telehealth, and provide more Michiganders with access to remote learning opportunities. And at the state level, we will continue to expand high-speed Internet access through funding from the recently signed Building Michigan Together plan and opportunities provided by the Michigan High Speed ​​Internet Office that I created on last year.

“Today’s announcement will make a difference to communities in Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Since day one of our administration, Governor Whitmer and I have worked hard to connect more families and small businesses to high-speed internet. Through the Connecting Michigan Communities program, we have extended high-speed Internet to more than 18,000 additional homes and small businesses, creating an estimated annual economic benefit of more than $32 million. We are grateful for the continued investment of our federal partners and will continue to work with them to improve high-speed Internet access throughout Michigan.

“In today’s world, you need reliable high-speed internet access for everything from work and school to doctor visits and paying your bills,” the company said. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “This new investment brings us one step closer to ensuring that all families in our state have access to these essential services.”

“Broadband internet access has become more vital than ever, whether you’re working from home, starting a small business or going to school,” said Senator Gary Peters. “That’s why I was proud to get this support through the CARES Act — so more Upper Peninsula communities can connect online, while creating good-paying jobs in Michigan and generating solid investments and economic opportunities. I will continue to work to expand affordable internet options and bridge the digital divide in our state.

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136 PDF), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. The EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is administered under the authority of the office’s Flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program (PDF), provides a wide range of financial assistance to communities and regions eligible as they react and recover from impacts. of the coronavirus pandemic.

About the United States Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing regions across the country for growth and success in the global economy. An agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration to create jobs for American workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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