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$3M grant awarded to expand high-speed internet in Michigan's U.P.

The Detroit News

The federal government is awarding a $3 million grant to help expand high-speed broadband service in parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday.

Whitmer joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to announce the Department’s Economic Development Administration award of the CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to Merit Network Inc. to support constructing a 70-mile fiber optic infrastructure.  

The project aims to expand high-speed broadband service in remote and underserved areas in Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties as well as support the regional Leveraging Infrastructure for Transforming the Upper Peninsula (LIFT-UP) initiative, which provides middle-mile infrastructure to local internet service providers, Whitmer's office said in a statement.

The investment is slated to be matched with $2.3 million in local funds and was expected to create 50 jobs, retain 10 jobs and generate $5 million in private investment. 

“I am grateful to our federal partners for prioritizing investments in high-speed internet, which is critical for families and small businesses," Whitmer said. "Getting this done will continue growing Michigan’s economy, support telework and telehealth, and offer more Michiganders access to remote learning opportunities.

"And at the state level, we will continue expanding access to high-speed internet with funding from the recently signed Building Michigan Together Plan and opportunities offered by the Michigan High Speed Internet Office I established last year.” 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow added: “In today’s world, you need reliable high-speed internet for everything from work, school, doctors’ visits, and paying your bills. This new investment brings us one step closer to making sure all families in our state have access to these essential services."

The effort is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided the Economic Development Administration with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to the virus.