President Barack Obama on Friday July 2 will announce almost $800 million in 66 grants and loans under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Initiatives Program, the broadband investment portion of the stimulus package.
The $795 million in grants and loans funded by the 2009 economic stimulus act will help create 5,000 construction and installation jobs. It will also yield $200 million in associated private investment, according to the White House.
They are the first awards in the second round of such grants.
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Jared Bernstein, chief economist to the Vice President, unveiled the awards in a conference call with reporters on July 1.
Locke said BTOP granted $404 million to 29 different projects, primarily middle-mile broadband infrastructure projects that Locke said the private sector either wasn't willing to or was unable to invest in. That also included $29 million for computer centers.
Vilsack said new BIP grants and loans total $390.9 million, with the emphasis on last-mile projects.
Bersntein said that the grants would result in 5,000 jobs up front, including those digging the trenches and stringing the wires.
Commerce and USDA have a total of $7.2 billion to hand out. Commerce gave out $1.6 billion to 111 projects in the first round. USDA gave out $1.48 billion in grants and loans for 105 projects.
Both Vilsack and Locke said they are looking for shovel-ready projects. More grants will be announced in the coming weeks.
"These Recovery Act projects are an important investment in our broadband future," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. "Connecting all Americans to the benefits of broadband will create jobs, spur economic opportunity, and drive U.S. global leadership in innovation."
Genachowski is said to be planning a trip to Obama's home state of Hawaii next week along with Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, to talk about broadband and meet with stakeholders there.