September 21, 2004
First State in Nation to Test New Broadband Grant Program
LANSING—Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that Michigan will be the first state in the nation to use a new broadband grant program to provide affordable high-speed Internet service to low and moderate income families. The new Digital Divide Investment Program (DDIP) was created by a grant approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington D.C. The new program will begin with pilot locations in Muskegon and Marquette Counties.
“In today’s technology-based society, every family must have access to high-speed Internet,” said Granholm. “Broadband is about more than giving people access to online shopping and information; it’s critical to growing our economy and attracting new jobs.”
The DDIP will combine Michigan Broadband Development Authority (MBDA) loans with federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars to encourage additional investment in under-served regions of the state and reduce Internet service prices for low and moderate income households. Up to $4 million in grants will be made available during the initial phase of the program.
The MBDA has already approved more than $12 million in loans for broadband investment across the state in a little more than a year. Just over a year ago Michigan received the No. 1 ranking out of all 50 states as having the best programs and policies in place to improve broadband infrastructure by TechNet, a national organization of more than 150 technology and business executives who advocates for expanded access to high-speed Internet connections for U.S. consumers and small businesses.
Broadband providers willing to invest in areas that have 51% or more of low and moderate income families, will compete for DDIP grant monies through an RFP process. Vendors will be judged on affordability (price of service), their plan for marketing services to low and moderate income families, total investment and financial viability for the project area.
The program will be administered jointly by Michigan Broadband Development Authority, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.