Federal support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Connect Grants Program and Electric Infrastructure Loan & Loan Guarantee Program will be given to four Illinois communities and organizations.
Funding will help rural Illinois communities modernize their broadband and electricity infrastructure, making reliable internet free and accessible for more residents.
One of the four communities includes a public utility company in Jo Daviess County.
Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc., located in Elizabeth, is expected to receive a $2,347,300 grant to construct a mile-long fiber system.
Internet access will be expanded in the county, and free internet will be supplied to a community center for two years.
“Showing up for rural communities means making sure every single Illinoisan has access to reliable electricity and broadband, no matter their zip code,” said Duckworth in a statement made Wednesday. “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, we know that internet access is crucial for public health, education, quality of life and so much more. I’m proud to announce this support with Sen. Durbin, and I will continue to advocate for updated infrastructure for working families all across Illinois and our nation.”
Sen. Durbin agrees with Duckworth and says the pandemic shed light on how important reliable internet and electricity is to the community.
“The pandemic has underscored the importance of connectivity,” said Durbin in a statement also released on Wednesday. “Reliable electricity and broadband internet service are critical utilities for communities around the state. I’m pleased to join Sen. Duckworth in announcing this federal funding today.”
A total of $54,030,163 in loans and grants will be given to Illinois communities and organizations by the USDA.
Three other communities and organizations receiving funds include:
- Wabash Telephone Cooperative, Inc. which is expected to receive a $2,599,863 grant to construct a mile-long fiber system in Clay County to increase internet access for 542 residents and eight businesses.
- Menard Electric Cooperative, which is expected to receive a $23,476,000 loan to improve electricity distribution for 281 Illinoisans in central Illinois by building and improving 194 miles of line.
- Illinois Electric Cooperative, which is expected to receive a $25,607,000 loan to improve electricity distribution for 300 Illinoisans in west central Illinois by building and improving 118 miles of line and installing 587 miles overheard of fiber optics cable.
Last month, after President Biden signed the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal into law, Duckworth and Durbin highlighted how the bill will benefit Illinoisans.
The USDA’s Community Connect Grants Program provides funding for broadband service in rural, working communities that lack service.
The Electric Infrastructure Loan & Loan Guarantee Program provides funding for electricity distribution, generation facilities, renewable energy systems and system improvements in rural areas.