SOUTH HOLLAND – October 28, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn was joined today by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to announce a $16 million state-county commitment to infrastructure improvement in South Suburban Cook County. Funded by the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, the state’s $6.1 million investment complements a $10 million pledge from Cook County. More than 70 miles of new, underground fiber optic cable will bring world-class high-speed network connections to dozens of community anchor institutions, including hospitals, libraries and schools in Harvey, Calumet Park, Robbins, Dixmoor, Riverdale and Markham.
“To continue growing our economy in the 21st century, we must continue building modern infrastructure,” said Governor Quinn. “This project will strengthen the Southland by bolstering the core information networks that directly impact public safety, health care, education and employment opportunities in our communities.”
The joint effort creates jobs, addresses a critical need in underserved communities, and enhances the state’s global competitiveness. It is part of Governor Quinn’s ongoing effort to spur innovation and accelerate investment in broadband infrastructure throughout Illinois.
"This partnership is critical in growing new jobs in our communities most in need. Southern Cook County has higher unemployment rates than other areas in the region and there are some of the highest concentrations of poverty and the lowest levels of technology adoption and access. Broadband will be critical to reversing these trends,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Just yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a $4.5 billion national push to invest in high-speed Internet networks for the estimated 18 million Americans who lack broadband access. The FCC estimates that expanding high-speed Internet in this way will create roughly 500,000 jobs in six years. The Illinois Century Network along with the Northeast Illinois Broadband Opportunity Partnership can help bring world class high speed internet service to existing businesses and attract new investment in Southern Cook County.
“This project provides another critical step forward in the southern suburbs’ efforts to strengthen our economy, and create jobs through infrastructure investments in partnership with the state of Illinois and Cook County,” said SSMMA President Rich Hofeld, mayor of Homewood.
The project is expected to create at least 150 new permanent and temporary jobs for engineers, electricians, laborers, construction workers and network technicians.
A longtime advocate of improving the state’s technology infrastructure, Governor Quinn has taken many steps to encourage broadband deployment in all areas of Illinois. As part of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, the state has leveraged more than $350 million dollars of private and federal investment with $50 million in state matching funds managed by Illinois’ Departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.