Durbin Announces Nearly $23 Million in Recovery Act Funding for Southern Illinois Broadband

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Department of Agriculture has awarded an $8,538,224 grant and a $14,230,375 loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the Rural High Speed Ethernet Network – Southern Illinois project. The funding will be used to design, engineer, and construct 1,600 miles of fiber-optic broadband network in 24 southern Illinois counties, as well as acquire, test, and install advanced network electronics and customer equipment.

“Broadband is an important economic tool, and too many Illinoisans lack adequate and affordable access.  This funding will help close the digital divide,” said Durbin.

The Rural High Speed Ethernet Network – Southern Illinois project will allow more than 20,000 community anchor institutions such as schools, public libraries, and hospitals to access the broadband network. This announcement, part of $150 million awarded nationwide by the Department of Agriculture today, includes $14,230,375 in grant funding and $8,538,224 in loan funding for the project.

Widespread access to broadband enables local businesses to expand, promotes job development, allows for more efficient public services, and supports cutting-edge educational opportunities.  Durbin has led the fight in the Senate to provide funding for expanded access to broadband.  Durbin’s Connect the Nation legislation was enacted in 2007.  Durbin helped secure $350 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for grants to develop and implement statewide initiatives that help identify and track broadband services in states throughout the country.

Fiber-optic network construction will take place in the following counties: Alexander, Clay, Edwards, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, and Williamson.