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Friday, July 2, 2010

President Obama Announces Sixty-six New Recovery Act Broadband Projects Nationwide

President Obama announced new jos in the Broadband sector that, according to the grantees, will not only directly create approximately 5,000 jobs up front, but will also help spur economic development in some of the nation’s hardest-hit communities, helping create jobs for years to come. In total, tens of millions of Americans and over 685,000 businesses, 900 healthcare facilities and 2,400 schools in all fifty states stand to benefit from the awards.

The $795 million in grants and loans through the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture have been matched by over $200 million in outside investment, for a total public-private investment of more than $1 billion in bringing broadband service to these communities, most of which currently have little or no access, to help them better compete and do business in the global marketplace.

The grants and loans are part of an overall $7.2 billion investment the Recovery Act makes in expanding broadband access nationwide – $4.7 billion through the Commerce Department and $2.5 billion funded through the Department of Agriculture. With the awards being announced tomorrow, more than $2.7 billion in Recovery Act broadband grants and loans will have been awarded to more than 260 projects across the country since December 2009. Overall, the Recovery Act is making a $100 billion investment in science, innovation and technology that is not only creating jobs today, but laying a foundation for economic growth for years to come.

The awards being offered include areas of Infrastructure - where middle mile awards build and improve middle mile connections to communities lacking sufficient broadband access and last mile awards connect end users like homes, hospitals and schools to their community’s broadband infrastructure (the middle mile), - and Public Computing Centers slated to expand computer center capacity for public use in libraries, community colleges and other public venues.  

Areas in the Washington, D.C. area that stand to benefit from the awards include the Government of the District of Columbia where a grant project of $17.5 million, with an additional $7.5 million in applicant-provided match, will improve broadband service for DC residents and businesses and provide connections for approximately 190 community anchor institutions located predominantly in the city's economically distressed areas. Nearly 650,000 residents stand to benefit from the project, as do more than 30,000 local businesses. In addition to the upfront jobs, the project will build a platform for job creation and economic growth going forward.

Bristol Virginia Utilities Board will receive a $22.7 million grant with an additional $13.5 million applicant-provided match will build an almost 400-mile fiber network that intends to bring high-speed broadband middle mile service to rural, economically distressed areas in southwestern Virginia. Bristol Virginia Utilities Board estimates that this project will directly create hundreds of jobs upfront and help drive economic development in the community that creates jobs for years to come. Over 49,000 people stand to benefit from this grant, along with 525 businesses and over 100 community institutions.

According to an analysis released by the National Economic Council last year, overall Recovery Act investments in broadband are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand economic development and job opportunities in communities that would otherwise be left behind in the new knowledge-based economy.

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