Pritzker launches Connect Illinois, initiative for broadband statewide

Gov. JB Pritzker Thursday at Ridgely Elementary School in Springfield. (Photo Governor JB Pritzker/Twitter)

 

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – Grade school principal Ken Gilmore contrasts today with the earlier days of the “information superhighway.”

“Back then, we shared one computer here at the school,” he said. “Today, our school has a 1:1 initiative with technology, and we are truly grateful to the speed of connectivity to information students and teachers have readily available.”

Gilmore’s school, Ridgely Elementary in Springfield, was the setting for the Pritzker administration’s announcement of Connect Illinois, an initiative to get broadband statewide.

The priorities, said Gov. JB Pritzker, are education, tele-health, and economic development.

“In some areas of the state, we have already seen the benefits broadband can bring to local economies, but it’s no secret those benefits have not been felt by all Illinoisans, especially those living in downstate and rural communities,” said Erin Guthrie, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities. “Having high-speed Internet encourages economic development in communities by attracting businesses that want to locate in areas that have the latest tech infrastructure.”

Pritzker, who says $420 million from the infrastructure budget will help pay for Connect Illinois, announced a 25-person “advisory council,” which he expects to produce a comprehensive plan by the end of 2019.

Dave Dahl can be reached at news@wjbc.com

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