STAR JOURNAL REPORT
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in Rhinelander Friday morning, the first stop of four to highlight the broadband expansion grant program. Earlier this month Walker announced $1.5 million dollars in grants awarded to 13 projects in underserved areas of the state. Projects in the Northwoods, Oneida, Vilas and Florence counties, will receive more than $191,000 in grants from the state.
“We’re celebrating the partnership of the state with the broadband grants,” Walker said. “And also the partnership between economic development corporations and broadband internet providers.”
The Oneida County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with Northwoods Connect, received $45,000 to build two additional towers to provide fixed wireless broadband in the county. Walker said that while people like to unplug when they get to the Northwoods, they also like the convenience of high speed internet.
“We have a global economy in which anyone in any part of the state can participate, if they have access to high speed internet connection,” Walker said. “You can do business anywhere in the world, any time if you have access to the tools…that’s why broadband, high speed internet connections are so crucially important.”
Walker created the Broadband Expansion Grant Program in the 2013-15 biennial budget and increased funding for the grants in the 2015-17 biennial budget from $500,000 to $1.5 million annually. The Governor’s proposed 2017-19 biennial budget provides $11 million more for the program over the next several years.