Infrastructure bill to include funding for High-speed Internet Office
A spending bill awaiting Governor Gretchen Whitmer's signature would include $250 million for improving access to broadband internet.
That money would help fund grants for the construction and management of a broadband network. It would also pay for full-time staff to run the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office.
The Center for Change: Northern Michigan Advocacy has long pushed for increased connectivity.
Executive Director Joanne Galloway said having the internet office up and running is vital. She said it will handle an influx of cash for building out networks.
“You have to have a plan of how you’re going to spend it, and you have to then be held accountable for how it’s being spent. So, we need to have staff that’s dedicated to that work. That’s collecting the data, writing the plan, and having subject matter experts,” Galloway said.
Whitmer created the Michigan High-speed Internet Office through executive order last spring, but the legislature had been slow to fund staff for it until now.
According to Galloway, there’s not much time to waste, because competition for scarce resources is increasing.
“It’s raining money for broadband, but that also means then there’s going to be supply chain challenges all across this country. So, we need to just continue to move expediently and secure those pieces and that certainly could affect how long it takes to complete these projects,” she said.
The state estimates there are over 200,000 households without high-speed internet access in Michigan. Many of those are in the Upper Peninsula.