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Senator says second round of broadband expansion grant applications now open

State Sen. Christopher Belt, D-Centreville, announced $50 million in matching grants is now available in the second round of the Connect Illinois program.

Belt said the high-speed internet access is available to households and businesses in the Metro East.

“Connect Illinois is the largest broadband expansion grant program in the country, and it has the potential to make a huge difference to our community,” Belt said. “Roughly 177 Metro East households will receive internet access thanks to the first round of grants. I urge eligible applicants to apply for this second round to expand the number of homes and businesses that can benefit from this historic program.”

Connect Illinois is the state’s $420 million plan to provide necessary internet access to every Illinois community by 2024. In the first round of grants, funding was awarded to 28 projects across Illinois, which are expected to expand internet access to more than 26,000 homes, businesses, farms and community institutions across the state. The Metro East alone received $214,000, giving approximately 177 households access to high-speed internet.

As part of the Connect Illinois plan, Madison Communications invested $5.1 million to expand high-speed internet access to Macoupin and Madison Counties, which was made possible by a $4.2 million first-round investment by the State of Illinois. The Madison Communications project is expected to provide over 9,200 new or enhanced connections to Macoupin and Madison County residents.

The eligibility requirements for this round of funding are largely the same as the previous round. However, the administration has introduced a new exemption allowing a lower nonstate match for project proposals concerning economically distressed communities, in an effort to allow underserved areas to be competitive when applying for critical infrastructure dollars.

Eligible applicants for the second round include internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments. Awardees may receive up to $5 million per project in matching funds. All Connect Illinois projects must meet the minority business participation requirements of the State of Illinois’ Business Enterprise Program. The application will be open until the end of February 2021.

For more information on the broadband expansion grant and to view the application, please visit the Connect Illinois page<>.



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