U.S. Sen. Feingold: Announces stimulus funds for broadband expansion in Wisconsin

Contact: Zach Lowe & Katie Rowley – (202) 224-5323

More Than $38 Million Will Help Improve Access to Broadband Internet

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is praising today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce that Wisconsin will receive more than $38 million in Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the stimulus. Approximately $29.9 million in stimulus funding will help expand broadband connections for public safety agencies, health care providers, schools and community organizations in the Chippewa Valley region, Platteville, Superior and Wausau through a program coordinated by the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Another $2.4 million stimulus grant through the University of Wisconsin-Extension will focus on providing education and outreach through new community computer centers and a program to encourage use by farmers, senior citizens, tribes, students and the unemployed. A $3.4 million stimulus grant matched by nearly $1.7 million in other funds will go to the College of Menominee Nation to upgrade and expand public computer services for the Menominee Nation and other area residents. The City of Milwaukee will also receive a $2.5 million stimulus grant to provide additional public computer workstations and enhance broadband access in economically vulnerable communities. 

“This stimulus funding will provide critical broadband expansion for several Wisconsin communities to help ensure our public safety agencies, health care providers, businesses and community institutions have the Internet access they need,” Feingold said. “Several projects also focus on providing education and outreach to citizens and communities around the state. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of 13 other stimulus-funded broadband projects in Wisconsin that were advanced earlier this month. This is another great example of the stimulus not only creating jobs in the near term, but helping economic development and job creation over the long term.”

Feingold has been a long-time proponent of investing in broadband and wrote a letter of support for the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s application for the stimulus funds in March 2010. In his letter of support Feingold said, “This project is designed to engage communities to build their own local capacity for education, awareness, and training. It will build digital literacy by transforming institutions, reaching underserved areas and vulnerable populations, and assuring broadband support within each community. Through its awareness campaign and community training, this project will raise consciousness about broadband and spur the desire to personally invest in broadband adoption.” 

The projects are:

* University of Wisconsin-Extension: $29,884,914 – This project is projected to directly connect as many as 182 community institutions to broadband. As many as 139,000 households stand to benefit as do 9,000 businesses.

* University Of Wisconsin-Extension: $2,390,414 – This project will create 10 new public computer centers and develop targeted programs for tribes, farmers, senior citizens, students, and the unemployed.

* College Of Menominee Nations: $3,355,956 – This project plans to deploy up to 130 new workstations and increase hours of operation to serve an estimated 660 additional users per week as well as provide educational and skills training to residents.

*City of Milwaukee: $2,479,742 – The project plans to deploy up to 270 new computer workstations, upgrade broadband speeds, and provide skills training to residents.

More information on the Commerce Department’s announcement is available here.