Congressman Fred Upton has announced a $3.3 million federal grant to help roll out high-speed broadband in southwest Michigan. He joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Wednesday to discuss the grant coming from the ReConnect Program. Perdue said during COVID, it’s all the more important rural areas have broadband.
“It’s not a luxury any longer, it’s a necessity,” Perdue said. “With distance learning and telehealth, all of those kinds of things, as well as precision agriculture. So it’s important that we do this.”
The grant recipient is Southwest Michigan Communications, Incorporated in Bloomingdale. It will get $3.3 million to help fund an overall $6.7 million expansion project. Upton said this will make a big difference.
“Being able to partner with companies like Bloomingdale, which is where this is going to go, nearly $7 million is going to connect a lot of homes. It’s going to connect a lot of businesses as well,” Upton said.
The funding will be used to deploy a fiber network to connect 3,200 people, 40 farms, and 27 businesses to high-speed internet in Van Buren, Kalamazoo, and Allegan counties. Upton said he’s spoken recently with students who have faced additional challenges during the pandemic due to a lack of high-speed internet in their area.