Funding will Increase Tech Training, Support Public Computer Centers
CHICAGO – July 30, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the City of Chicago has been awarded $21.7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to improve broadband access to the internet. These projects mark the sixth Illinois broadband projects funded through ARRA.
“Internet access is a valuable tool for individuals and businesses that are looking to stay ahead of the curve," said Governor Quinn. “This funding ensures that more people will receive access to critical online resources as we continue our efforts to bring affordable broadband services to all unserved and underserved areas of Illinois.”
The City of Chicago is receiving nearly $9 million in ARRA funding for the SmartChicago Public Computer Centers proposal and $7 million for the SmartChicago Sustainable Broadband Adoption program. The funding is through the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The state is investing more than $2.2 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funds to support the city’s winning proposals, in addition to the approximately $3.5 million in matching funds provided by local partners.
According to a 2009 study commissioned by the City of Chicago, as many as 40 percent of city residents lack home broadband access, and more than 60 percent of Chicago libraries now report average wait times for a computer of three hours or longer.
The programs will establish new public computer centers in census tracts where 50 percent of households are low- or moderate-income. They will also expand technology at existing public sites, including libraries, city colleges, Chicago housing facilities, workforce centers, senior centers, youth centers and community service centers.
The programs will provide technology training that will help 20,000 job-seekers retool their skills through technology courses that cover online job searching, resume creation, and other workforce-readiness skills. Residents and small businesses who complete a multi-session training course will receive a laptop.
The state of Illinois has designated over $50 million in state funds as a match for exceptional projects that have been awarded federal BTOP funding in two rounds. In addition to providing the matching grants, the state provided technical grant writing assistance to Illinois-based ARRA applicants. This is the first Illinois project awarded funds in Round II.
A long-time advocate of improving the state’s broadband access, Governor Quinn has taken many steps to ensure broadband connectivity in all areas of Illinois. For more information visit Broadband.Illinois.gov.