(The Center Square) – Michigan plans to hand out more than $200 million in federal taxpayer funds for grants to provide high-speed internet access to underserved areas.
The Michigan High Speed Internet Office announced the first round of the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks grants, awarding $203 million to more than 70,000 Michigan homes and businesses to connect them with faster internet.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, which will later allow as many as 90,000 Michigan homes and businesses to have access to better internet connection.
“Every Michigander deserves access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet that meets their needs,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “With the first round of ROBIN grant awards, we are going to connect more than 70,000 households, businesses, and community institutions in areas across Michigan that have too often been left out or left behind to high-speed internet.”
The first round of ROBIN grants totals $203 million, which will be used toward 18 projects from nine applicants. A private match investment totals $202 million. Collectively, the $405 million is expected to connect more than 71,000 locations to fiber-to-the-home services.
“We are excited to announce the first round ROBIN Grant awardees that will provide much-needed funding support for the development and expansion of broadband infrastructure to underserved Michigan communities,” said Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “We know that access to affordable high-speed internet has become a necessity in our professional, personal and social lives. These funds will assist all Michiganders in getting connected and lead to more economic opportunities.”
Locations include Alcona, Allegan, Antrim, Arenac, Barry, Bay, Benzie, Berrien, Branch, Cass, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford, Grand Traverse, Gladwin, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Iosco, Isabella, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Lake, Leelanau, Livingston, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Montcalm, Montmorency, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Saginaw, Scottville, St. Joseph, Van Buren, Waters and Wexford counties.
The MIH will announce a second round of funding later this fall.