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Remarks Announcing $39.7 Million Investment to Increase Broadband Access in New York, Corland, New York

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AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Friday, December 18, 2009

CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

202-482-4883

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Dennis F. Hightower
Remarks Announcing $39.7 Million Investment to Increase Broadband Access in New York
Cortland, New York

It is great to be here.

I am here today to discuss $39.7 million worth of important new investments in New York’s economy—an investment that will help put people back to work immediately—and lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth for years to come.

And those goals—more than any others—are the top priorities of the Obama administration.

Because today, too many people in New York, and states across America, are out of work, wondering if their job is at risk, or facing financial hardship.

This is completely unacceptable to President Obama, to me, and to everyone else in this administration working to get our economy back on track.

We are of one mind: No matter what the indicators say, this country is not in an economic recovery until every American who wants a job can find one.

Lately, you have seen a quickening of the administration’s economic recovery efforts, a quickening that underlines the sense of urgency we all feel. And this ION project is just one more step to get things moving in the right direction.

Yesterday, Vice President Biden announced that we are investing $183 million in Recovery Act funding in 18 high speed Internet expansion projects benefiting 17 states.

The ION project is among the biggest.

And like many good government projects, this one uses federal dollars to jumpstart private investment.

The total budget for this project is $49.7 million—39.7 million in federal funds—and almost $10 million in cash contributions in the form of private equity.

This project will expand high-speed Internet access to more than 70 rural communities in upstate New York and parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont.

In the short term, building out this high-tech infrastructure will help create jobs to engineer, construct, and install 1,300 miles of fiber-optic cable.

This investment will also pay dividends in New York for decades to come. Thanks to this funding:

  • This project will enable 250,000 households, 38,000 businesses and over 330 anchor institutions, like libraries, schools and hospitals, to get connected to a 21st Century Internet backbone over the next couple of years.
  • Seven SUNY campuses will be served, including SUNY Cortland and three private universities, as well as libraries, community colleges, state and county agencies and health clinics and facilities.
  • Hospitals like the Basset Hospital and healthcare System will have new telemedicine capabilities allowing doctors to diagnose patients from hundreds of miles away.
  • SUNY will have new connectivity for students to access information from all over the world.
  • Small-business owners across the state will have new advertising opportunities and access to more markets.

And, equally important, these critical investments will be fixing a “digital divide” that has persisted in parts of America for far too long.

Having access to the high-speed Internet’s economic, health and educational benefits should be as much of a fundamental American right as attending a quality school or feeling safe when you walk down the street.

Our best minds should have access to 21st century communication tools to be able to talk to one another, and create and innovate whether they are in Silicon Valley or here in Cortland.

That is why the Recovery Act allocated a total of $7.2 billion to bring high-speed Internet access to underserved parts of the country—both rural and urban.

The ION Upstate New York Rural Broadband Initiative is a critical investment for the people of New York—and one of a series of grants that will be announced on a rolling basis through February that will connect institutions and households across America to a communications infrastructure crucial to our economic growth.

I want to congratulate ION CEO Jim Becker and all the people on the ION team who put in the hard work to prepare their proposal and who will now be charged with bringing these important investments to the people of upstate New York.

Unless we use the 21st century tools at our disposal, America will never be as connected and as productive as it could be. And that connectedness is critical to our economic future.

Despite the difficult times we are in, the Recovery Act is laying the groundwork for a more prosperous and more sustainable future. The people of New York are right at the forefront of that effort.

Thank you.