The state has awarded $12.7 million in grants for projects to improve rural broadband internet access.
In West Michigan, an initiative in Barry County was awarded $1.1 million through the Connecting Michigan Communities program to expand broadband access. A project in Berrien and Cass counties received $410,422, while a Calhoun County project received $276,000.
A four-county project in Calhoun, Eaton, Ingham and Jackson counties was awarded $782,699.
In announcing the grants today at the North American International Cyber Summit, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said about 1.2 million Michigan households lack a permanent fixed broadband connection at home, resulting in a $1.8 billion to $2.7 billion potential economic benefit left unrealized among disconnected households.
The projects funded would extend broadband access to 10,900 households, businesses and other organizations.
The state plans to award a second round of grants totaling $5.3 million later this month. A state budget that took effect Oct. 1 includes another $14.3 million in grant funding for a third round of projects in 2021.
“In today’s society, the fastest way to create an even playing field for all is access to high-speed internet,” Whitmer said. “These broadband internet projects, along with additional infrastructure initiatives we are undertaking, will provide underserved communities in Michigan with high-speed internet service. This critical service is no longer a luxury but is a necessity that allows every Michigander to get a quality education and compete in the global economy.”