SPRINGFIELD - The race for ultra high-speed Internet throughout the state has begun. Governor Pat Quinn recently announced details of the Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge, a competition that will award up to $4 million in capital funding to the most promising high-speed Internet deployment projects.
“Through this challenge, we want our neighborhoods to become Gigabit communities with Internet connections more than 100 times faster than today,” said Quinn in his Feb. 1 State of the State address. “Our goal is to build smart communities that will foster the job engines of the future.”
The competition is part of the comprehensive, multi-year Illinois Jobs Now! economic development program and is open to any private or public organization. Each proposal should outline a viable plan to connect at least 1,000 end users to an ultra high-speed broadband network.
Additionally, successful applicants will demonstrate ways to: improve economic opportunities, foster economic development through the expansion of “smart communities,” increase the number of residents with college degrees, connect health care professionals with their patients, and position Illinois’ universities to continue leading the nation in research, innovation, and technology.
“This challenge will be a catalyst for future job creation, improved health care and innovation in the classroom,” said Drew Clark, executive director of Partnership for a Connected Illinois, also known by it’s Broadband Illinois website. “Better broadband means better lives. This competition will inspire communities and their partner organizations to shape our future in ways that will improve the economy of Illinois.”
Technology organizations throughout the state have shown their enthusiasm for the competition. "The Gigabit Communities Challenge will resound far and wide," said Fred Hoch, president of the Illinois Technology Association. "Extended broadband is smart business and will help to drive the economic fortunes of our communities and the state."
"Faster broadband connections provide new economic opportunities for Illinois," added Matthew Summy, president of Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. "Through the gigabit communities initiative, Governor Quinn is challenging us to draw on the strength of public private partnerships to open new doors for innovation and job creation."
"Statewide broadband connectivity is critical to all aspects of our economy, including education, healthcare, job creation, public safety and in connecting the business community on a global scale," said Ed Longanecker, executive director of TechAmerica. "We fully support the Gigabit Communities Challenge and commend Governor Quinn for his leadership and commitment to improving connectivity for all Illinois businesses and residents."
Entrants are encouraged to develop creative proposals that maximize total project investment and community benefits. Proposals that can serve as proofs-of-concept with a broader impact in Illinois will receive the highest consideration. For more information, visit www.gigabit.illinois.gov.
About: Partnership for a Connected Illinois, also known by its Broadband Illinois website, is a non-profit entity, based in Springfield, working in partnership with public and private entitles in the State of Illinois. Broadband Illinois collects data about high-speed Internet (broadband) availability and works with local communities to make broadband available throughout the state. Our organization is also working to improve the adoption and enhance the impact of broadband in Illinois. Learn more at www.broadbandillinois.org and connect with us at www.facebook.com/broadbandillinois.
© Illinois Science and Technology Coalition
Illustration by Dieter Braun