ABC News' Karen Travers reports:
Today, Vice President Biden will travel to Georgia to announce more than $2 billion in Recovery Act grants and loans to bring broadband Internet services to communities that currently do not have it.
The vice president will be in Dawsonville, Ga., to announce an initial investment of $182 million for 18 broadband projects over 17 states. The government funding has been matched by $46 million in private funding. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also will make visits to communities that will receive funding for these projects. Locke will visit the University of Maine in Orono today and next Tuesday, Vilsack will travel to Ohio.
Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to the vice president, on Thursday emphasized the impact this funding will have on job creation and growth, noting that the broadband project will create jobs for technology specialists who will connect the network, construction workers and local businesses that will benefit from the broadband technology and increase production and expand to the global marketplace.
Bernstein said that this is not just about Internet access, but rather it will allow communities to make progress on modernizing the electrical grid, managing electronic medical records and developing high-speed rail.
Biden will make the announcement at Impulse Manufacturing, a precision metal fabrication company in Dawsonville. The city is in a region in northern Georgia that will receive a $33 million broadband award for the North Georgia Network Cooperative, Inc.
The money will go to a project that is expected to benefit an eight-county area that has a population of more than 334,000 and will pass through 146 county government facilities, 82 public schools, seven technical institutions, colleges and universities and four hospitals.
These grants and loans are part of an overall $7.2 billion Recovery Act investment to bring broadband access to underserved communities — $4.7 billion through the Commerce Department and $2.5 billion through the Department of Agriculture.
The White House outlined four types of awards being made today:
Middle Mile Awards – Build and improve connections to communities lacking sufficient broadband access.
Last Mile Awards – Connect end users like homes, hospitals and schools to their community’s broadband infrastructure (the middle mile).
Public Computing – Expand computer center capacity for public use in libraries, community colleges and other public venues.
Sustainable Adoption – Fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand.