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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2.4 Million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance to Expand Broadband Infrastructure in Washtenaw County, Michigan

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $2.4 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to Ann Arbor SPARK, Ann Arbor, Michigan, to construct 20 miles of underground fiber optic cable in the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to attract and retain high-tech businesses, specifically in the growing mobility sector. This EDA grant, to be matched with $600,000 in local funds, is expected to create 67 jobs and generate $35.6 million in private investment.

“President Biden is committed to ensuring our nation not only recovers from this pandemic but builds back stronger,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment will expand access to broadband, attracting and retaining more businesses, while providing opportunities for economic development.”

“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The expansion of broadband infrastructure in Washtenaw County will build additional capabilities for the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, paving the way for increased business growth and economic development in the region.”

“Investing in high-speed internet broadband will provide countless opportunities for our small businesses to grow, and get Michigan back to work,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Access to high-speed internet is essential for businesses to thrive, and this investment will create jobs and grow Michigan’s economy. I am grateful to President Biden and Secretary Raimondo for their dedication to Michigan workers.”

“Today’s announcement marks another important step toward providing more Michiganders access to high-speed internet,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist. “This past year has highlighted how essential Internet access is in daily life. As more of our daily functions transition online, this investment will make a real difference in people’s lives by increasing access to an essential service and strengthening our connections with each other.”

“I continue to hear from Michiganders across the state that we are in critical need of upgrades and further investment into our broadband infrastructure,” said Senator Gary Peters. “I was proud to support the City of Ann Arbor’s and Ann Arbor SPARK’s application for this grant – and I’m pleased they will receive this award. This grant funding will enhance Washtenaw County’s broadband capabilities, while generating significant investments in the community and supporting the entrepreneurship that makes Michigan a global hub for mobility and innovation.”

“Even before the pandemic, many people across the U.S. were disconnected and unable to access simple resources the internet provides like access to employment, business software capabilities, virtual learning, and healthcare,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12). “Expanding strong broadband internet is one piece of our country’s infrastructure puzzle, and I’m thankful we could secure this funding for SPARK to help sustain and attract businesses across Ypsi and Ann Arbor and help our economy thrive.”

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136 PDF), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) program, provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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