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Blog Category: Recovery Act

NTIA Recovery Act Broadband Grantees Recognized at White House Ceremony as Innovators in Infrastructure

Photo: Don Welch (Merit), Assistant Secretary Strickling, Joe Freddoso (MCNC), Rob Mancini (District of Columbia), Elwood Downing (Merit), Dave Lambert (Internet2/UCAID), Greg Urban (State of Maryland).

Yesterday, two NTIA Recovery Act broadband grantees were among  11 local leaders from across the country honored at the White House as “Champions of Change.” Joe Freddoso, President and CEO of MCNC, and Donald Welch, President and CEO of Merit Network Inc, were recognized for using innovative techniques to develop valuable projects helping to improve America’s infrastructure.

Merit Network and MCNC both received Recovery Act grants from NTIA for broadband infrastructure projects that are currently underway and connecting community anchor institutions in Michigan and North Carolina, including schools, libraries, and hospitals, to high-speed Internet.  Under the leadership of Welch and Freddoso, Merit and MCNC have put hundreds of people to work and are laying the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and improved education, healthcare, and public safety.

The Critical Role Broadband Plays in Today's Economy

Guest blog post by Anna M. Gomez, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Deputy Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, or NOBEL, that examined how broadband is helping to address many of America’s most pressing challenges.

A robust broadband infrastructure is critical for America to remain competitive in the 21st century. Broadband provides a foundation for innovation, job creation and economic growth. Broadband is also transforming healthcare by enabling patients in rural areas to consult with medical specialists hundreds of miles away. It is opening doors in education by allowing students to take online classes at universities across the country. And it is changing the way we communicate, form personal connections, access information, shop and conduct many everyday transactions.

The Obama administration is working to ensure that more Americans have the resources and skills to share in these benefits and opportunities. This is particularly critical in today’s job market, since many job openings are posted only online and since digital literacy skills are a requirement in many workplaces.

One highlight of the administration’s work in this area is the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, a Recovery Act program administered by the NTIA that is investing nearly $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. These projects are building networks in rural America and other places where existing systems are inadequate, and connecting schools, hospitals and other vital community anchor institutions. They are opening computer centers in schools, libraries and other public buildings to provide broadband access for people who want to go online but lack the resources at home. And they are teaching computer and digital literacy skills, providing online job search and resume writing assistance, and even training people for technical jobs in the information-age economy.

New Promise for Rural North Carolina

State and local officials celebrate groundbreaking with shovelsful of earth (Photo credit: MCNC)

Guest blog post by Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, NTIA

Last Friday, I visited Kannapolis, North Carolina to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the second phase of an infrastructure project that will deploy or improve broadband networks throughout much of the state, particularly in rural areas. The effort is led by MCNC, a nonprofit broadband provider that has operated the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) for more than 25 years. The project—funded by a $104 million Recovery Act investment and $40 million in private sector matching funds—will deploy approximately 1,650 miles of new fiber. Combined with upgraded facilities, the project will add 2,600 miles of new or improved infrastructure to MCNC’s network, extending broadband to nearly 1,200 community anchor institutions, including universities, schools, community colleges, libraries, healthcare providers, and public safety facilities.  Nearly 500 of those anchor institutions have already benefitted from improved access to the broadband network.

Secretary Locke Announces Digital Literacy Initiative

Secretary Locke Announces DigitalLiteracy.Gov

Locke visits Recovery Act-funded public computer center in Baltimore, unveils new website to improve computer and Internet skills in America

At a public computing center in Baltimore, Md., today, Secretary Gary Locke announced a digital literacy initiative that works to expand economic and educational opportunities in America. Locke was joined by U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) to unveil www.DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new website that provides libraries, community colleges, schools and workforce training centers with a variety of resources and tools for teaching computer and Internet skills, which are increasingly important to success in today’s global economy.

Prior to the unveiling, Locke and the senators toured a computer lab and saw first-hand how people in the Baltimore community are using this new website to find free training resources on a range of digital literacy topics at various skill levels, including assistance in searching for and applying to jobs online.

“In a globalized, 21st ccentury economy, when you don’t have regular access to the high-speed Internet – and the skills to use it – your education, business, and employment opportunities are narrowed,” Locke said. “The tools we are unveiling today will help more Americans gain valuable job skills and augment the Recovery Act investments we are making to expand broadband access and adoption nationwide.”  Press release  |  Fact sheet

Learn more and see how you can enhance your digital literacy at www.DigitalLiteracy.gov.

NTIA Administrator Strickling Addresses Broadband Program Progress

Administrator Stricking on podium
At an event in Washington, D.C. today, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling described the progress of broadband stimulus projects, noting that Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees have thus far installed more than 4,000 computers for public use and provided computer training to more than 65,000 people.
“These Recovery Act projects are already providing an essential link to economic and educational opportunities for thousands of Americans,” said Strickling. 

Secretary Locke Speaks with Silicon Valley Leadership Group on Obama Administration's Efforts to Foster Innovation

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered remarks at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG)’s annual luncheon today, emphasizing the steps the Obama administration has taken to turn around the U.S. economy and create jobs. Locke stressed the administration’s efforts to build a stronger foundation for long-term growth and prosperity by investing in research and development, a 21st century infrastructure and manufacturing, and underlined Silicon Valley’s role as the epicenter of technological innovation.

Sec. Locke wanted it to be known that “when it comes to new ideas, our only criterion is efficacy. It doesn’t matter if they come from the left or the right, the boardroom or academia. We simply will not rest until every American who wants a job can find one.”

Locke emphasized that President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, while freezing domestic discretionary spending overall, actually increases funding for civilian R&D by nearly 6 percent. Also, he noted President Obama’s support a new business tax cut that will allow small businesses to deduct the full amount of new capital investments immediately.

Locke also highlighted President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years in support of several million American jobs. The NEI will provide more funding, more focus and more Cabinet-level coordination to increase U.S. exports, and represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet.

Remarks

Efforts to Support American Women Highlighted in Commerce and White House Reports

Sec. Locke Meets with Economic Team This week the National Economic Council released a report on the impact of the recession on women and how the Obama administration’s economic policies benefit American women. Some of these policies include a tax credit for college for working families, expanded and increased student aid, and more manageable loan repayment so women can get the education they need to succeed. The report lays out the economic landscape facing women today and details some of the many ways the administration is committed to making sure the government is working for all Americans, especially American women.

The Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) further explored the state of American women and Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century in a report issued earlier this month for the White House Council on Women and Girls.  According to the report, women-owned businesses are steadily expanding and account for $1.2 trillion in economic output. Yet they continue to lag behind other companies in several key indicators.

To help reverse this trend, the Obama administration has invested in women’s education and expanded the capital available for women to start a business. The White House has already given out more than 12,000 Small Business Administration Recovery Act loans totaling more than $3 billion to women-owned small businesses.

Learn more about what the administration is doing on behalf of women and the economy and women-owned businesses, or read the reports.

Secretary Locke Keynotes Annual GridWeek Conference

Secretary Locke at lecternSecretary of Commerce Gary Locke delivered the opening keynote address today at the 2010 GridWeek Conference at the Washington Convention Center. The annual conference brings together key leaders and stakeholders from the energy industry to explore the Smart Grid’s impact on the economy, utility infrastructure, consumers and the environment.

The 2010 Conference focused on international Smart Grid policies, programs, collaborations and standards-harmonization efforts. Locke discussed increased global cooperation among industry and government leaders on Smart Grid standards and highlighted U.S. industry leadership in advancing the harmonization and deployment of these standards. He also acknowledged the Commerce Department’s George Arnold, who won this year’s GridWeek International Award for his work in advancing international Smart Grid cooperation and standards. Arnold is the national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

"If a Smart Grid is built here in the United States, it can help reduce power demand by more than 20 percent," Locke said in his remarks. "If Smart Grids are rolled out around the world, the reduction in global energy demand and the corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions will be transformative."

The Obama administration has allocated $11 billion in investments through the Recovery Act for Smart Grid technologies, transmission system expansion and upgrades, and other investments to modernize and enhance the electric transmission infrastructure.  Remarks

Commerce's NTIA Announces Investments to Expand Internet Access During HBCU Week

Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling will be joined by U.S. Department of Justice Senior Counselor for Access to Justice Laurence Tribe with grant awardeesIt is National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week, a time to celebrate educational achievement and opportunity. The Commerce Department’s NTIA today announced a Recovery Act grant to an HBCU, North Carolina Central University’s School of Law, to upgrade broadband service while expanding access to its legal education programs. The nearly $2 million investment will also benefit four partner HBCUs in the state --  Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina A&T University, and Fayetteville State University. 

This is one of two Recovery Act investments announced today that will help bridge the technological divide, improve education, and increase access to legal services. Release  |  Presidential Proclamation


Secretary Locke Announces Recovery Act Investments to Improve Broadband Internet Access

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced 35 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare across the country. The investments, totaling $482.4 million in grants, will fund projects that pave the way to bring enhanced high-speed Internet access to millions of households and businesses and link thousands of schools, hospitals, libraries, and public safety offices to the information superhighway.

 “In a globalized 21st century economy, when you don’t have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don’t have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides,” Locke said. “These critical Recovery Act investments will create jobs and lay the groundwork for long-term sustainable economic growth in communities across America.”

 “These projects will have a real, lasting impact on communities across the country,” Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. “We are investing in ‘middle mile’ networks that bring high-speed Internet access to communities and connect key anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, and hospitals. We are also investing in projects to improve access and spur Internet usage and adoption. This allows us to get the most bang for every grant dollar and award projects that will address communities’ broadband problems while creating jobs and facilitating  sustainable economic growth.”  Read more