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Michigan internet office to share broadband findings for $1.5B funding

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(The Center Square) – The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office will soon complete the final 10 stops of the statewide MI Connected Future.

The program collects input from Michiganders on prioritizing the $1.5 billion federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program funding the state will receive.

“Our MIHI Office is excited to begin the final leg of this very ambitious tour to ensure we tackle any obstacles that stand in the way of getting Michigan citizens connected to affordable, high-speed internet,” Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Susan Corbin said in a statement. “We encourage residents to attend one of the final tour stops near them to provide input and feedback on the findings the MIHI team has identified thus far.”

During the first portion of the tour, MIHI gathered community input and feedback about community internet needs, especially affordability, accessibility, digital skills development, and access to internet-enabled devices.

The final 10 stops of the tour aim to present MIHI’s findings and provide a high-level overview of the draft Michigan Five-Yea Action Plan and Michigan Digital Equity Plan, written based on feedback from the initial stops of the tour.

Attendees can provide feedback through public comment on the findings before the department finalizes its Michigan Five-Year Action Plan and the Michigan Digital Equity Plan.

In June 2021, Whitmer via executive directive created the MIHI office, which includes eight staff members located within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The total annual salary cost is $512,000, according to documents obtained through records requests. MIHI is funded through $10.9 million of grants as of May 2023.

“The MIHI team is looking forward to providing the public with an overview and findings from the first 31 stops of the MI Connected Future tour,” Michigan Chief Connectivity Officer Eric Frederick said in a statement. “We are listening to every community at every stage of this tour to ensure the MIHI team provides a comprehensive Michigan Five-Year Action Plan and Michigan Digital Equity Plan that fits the unique needs of all Michiganders.”

The MIHI team will visit each prosperity region of Michigan to present the draft plans starting the week of July 10.

Final tour stops include:

Escanaba: July 11, 5-7 p.m., Bay College, JHUC 952 Conference Room, 2001 N Lincoln Road, Escanaba, MI 49829.Petoskey: July 12, 5-7 p.m., Emmet County EMS, 1201 Eppler Road, Petoskey, MI 49770.Fremont/Newaygo: July 18, 5-7 p.m., Newaygo County RESA, Multi-Media Room, 4747 W 48th Street, Fremont, MI 49412.Atlanta: July 20, 5-7 p.m., Atlanta Senior Center, 11780 M-33, Atlanta, MI 49709.Beaverton: July 25, 5-7 p.m., Beaverton Junior/Senior High School, Cafeteria, 3090 Crockett Road, Beaverton, MI 48612.Sandusky: July 27, 5-7 p.m., Westpark Inn, 440 West Sanilac Road, Sandusky, MI 48471.Okemos: August 1, 5-7 p.m., Okemos Event Center, 2187 University Park Drive, Okemos, MI 48864.Three Rivers: August 2, 5-7 p.m., George Washington Carver Community Center, 436 Jefferson Street, Three Rivers, MI 49093.Howell: August 9, 5-7 p.m., Cleary University, 3725 Cleary Drive, Howell, MI 48843.Detroit: August 10, 5-7 p.m., Focus: Hope, 1400 Oakman Blvd., Detroit, MI 48238.

Learn more about the next leg of the MI Connected Future Tour and register to attend at Michigan.gov/MIConnectedFuture.

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