DES MOINES — The Iowa Communications Network, Iowa Health System and five regional telephone companies will share $90.1 million for broadband projects in the state, the White House plans to announce today.
The Iowa projects are expected to create more than 450 jobs at the outset and are designed to drive economic development. They are among 66 Recovery Act broadband projects nationwide that will create about 5,000 jobs initially and help spur economic development in some of the nation’s hardest-hit communities to create jobs for years to come, according to the recipients.
President Barack Obama will announce the $795 million in grants through the departments of Commerce and Agriculture. The grants and loans have been matched by more than $200 million in outside investment, for a total
public-private investment of more than $1 billion in bringing broadband service to communities, most of which currently have little or no access, to help them better compete and do business in the global marketplace.
The state’s ICN is scheduled to get a $16.2 million grant, with an additional $7.6 million match to upgrade an existing 3,000-mile network to provide 10 gigabyte-per-second capable points in each of 99 counties, 17 of which are economically distressed. It will fund an upgrade of direct high-speed connections for thousands of community institutions, too.
The ICN projects 100 new jobs initially.
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U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, called the grants a timely “investment in Iowa’s future.”
“Providing much-needed Internet access to rural communities in Iowa will create hundreds of jobs and spur economic development,” he said. “As Iowans continue to recover from an historic economic disaster, it’s important we provide schools, businesses and homes with the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing global marketplace.”
Other Iowa businesses getting grants are Farmer’s Telephone Co. of Riceville, Grand River Mutual Telephone Corp., Ellsworth Cooperative Telephone Association, Breda Telephone Corp. and Grand River Mutual Telephone Corp.