04102019CM1670EAST ST. LOUIS – As high-speed internet becomes more and more of a necessity for households and businesses, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) and Governor JB Pritzker announce a broadband expansion grant that will give approximately 177 households in the Metro-East access to high-speed internet. 

The funds come from Connect Illinois, Gov. Pritzker’s plan to provide basic internet access to every community in Illinois by 2024. 

“Now more than ever, we can clearly see how much high-speed internet is required. There are students across Illinois who struggled to participate in e-learning because they didn’t have adequate access to high-speed internet,” said Belt. “Going forward, we need to make sure we are ready for any type of catastrophe – as well as everyday life, and that starts by being connected.”

State-wide, $50 million in total investments will be matched by $65 million in non-state funds to support 28 projects across Illinois. The projects should expand internet access to more than 26,000 homes, businesses, farms, and community institutions.

“Connect Illinois is about the right of all our communities to access health care, education, and economic opportunity – because in the 21st century, all those rights are tied to digital connectivity,” Pritzker said. “The unacceptable consequences of disparities in broadband access were clear before the COVID-19 pandemic – and over the last few months, we’ve seen first-hand what it means when a small business that had to close its doors has no online shop, what it means when an elderly couple has no safe way to get medical advice at a distance, what it means when a child has no ability to access homework assignments online. This work has never been more urgent – the disadvantages that persist when our communities are left out of opportunity demand ambitious efforts to bring them to a close.”

The state’s largest-ever broadband expansion initiative, Connect Illinois, includes a $400 million broadband grant program and a $20 million capital program for the Illinois Century Network, a high-speed broadband network serving K-12 and higher education institutions, among others.

Another round of Connect Illinois grants is expected to be released later this year. More information on these and other grant programs can be found on DCEO’s website

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