Leveraging broadband for innovation in economic development or quality of life requires more than a fast connection. This is particularly true when it comes to empowering communities to participate in anticipation of a broadband deployment. Accordingly, Connect Illinois will augment its historic investment in broadband infrastructure with value-added work to prime the broadband pump through a complementary grant program for community planning and capacity building.
The most compelling infrastructure grant applications will be community driven, with deep connections between the application and a community’s technology vision, needs, and goals. Targeted engagement and programming will be necessary to promote community involvement throughout the grant process, eventual deployment, and ongoing broadband adoption and utilization. Without meaningful community involvement, applications may tend toward minimal impact, missing key opportunities for advances in such areas as community and economic development, education, or telehealth.
To jump-start community involvement and to maximize the impact of the Connect Illinois investment, effort will be taken to engage individual communities, inspire and support community broadband planning and goal-setting, and galvanize local resources and awareness.
This effort will seek to leverage state and non-state funding to design programming, tap experts in community broadband engagement, and lay the groundwork for meaningful, community-driven infrastructure deployment and lasting approaches to broadband utilization.