pexels andrea piacquadio 3782192PEORIA – To continue expanding access to quality broadband in rural areas, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) announced $50 million in funding are available through the Connect Illinois broadband expansion program’s second round of grants today.

“In order to participate in the 21st Century economy, people need reliable, affordable internet access,” Koehler said. “By setting aside money in the bipartisan Rebuild Illinois statewide construction plan to improve our broadband infrastructure, Downstate businesses, schools, farmers and health care providers will have the opportunity to flourish on a whole new level.”

With the help of a $3.1 million grant to Century Enterprises, Inc., the first round of Connect Illinois grants jumpstarted the process of providing improved access to high-speed internet for approximately to 581 households, businesses, farms and other institutions across parts of Peoria, Knox and Fulton counties. Communities that received new or improved connections included Rapatee, Laura, Dunlap, Kickapoo, Hanna City, Trivoli, Knoxville, Princeville, Williamsfield, Maquon, Bernadotte and Ipava.

The second round of Connect Illinois grants will allow for up to $5 million per project and calls for a matching component, which requires companies to dedicate funding that will accelerate the delivery of broadband investments.

Funding for the Connect Illinois program is made possible through Rebuild Illinois, the state’s historic, bipartisan $45 billion statewide construction program, which dedicates $420 million to broadband infrastructure.

The application for this round of grants will remain open through February 2021. More information on this grant program can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website.