BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband have 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.
“As Chairman of the Rural Broadband Task Force for the Illinois Soybean Association, we have been working hard to ensure our members and their neighbors have full access to broadband services,” says ISA Director and Illinois farmer, Scott Gaffner. “Studies have shown that farm families increase profitability on their farms when high-speed broadband is available. The recent commitment by Governor Pritzker, to provide the largest broadband capital investment to date, will substantially help soybean farmers to become more successful with their business operations and will greatly assist in providing broadband to Illinois’ rural residents.”
The Governor’s Round Two funding includes $23 million in Connect Illinois grant awards matched by $24 million in nonstate 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.
“This funding will mean families and businesses across the state will have access to education, healthcare, employment opportunities, and essential connectivity,” says Mike Levin, ISA Senior Director of Government Relations. “It will mean new jobs, economic development, and a narrowing of gaps among small and large Illinois communities.”
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the websites www.ilsoy.org and www.ilsoygrowers.com.
— Illinois Soybean Association