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Remarks Announcing Recovery Act Investment to Increase Broadband Access in Los Angeles

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AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

202-482-4883

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks Announcing Recovery Act Investment to Increase Broadband Access in Los Angeles
South Los Angeles WorkSource Center
Los Angeles, California

Thank you, Mayor Villaraigosa, for the kind words. It’s always great to be in Los Angeles. I’m delighted that Senator Boxer could be with us this afternoon. And I want to thank our hosts, the South Los Angeles WorkSource Center, and all of you for joining us here today.

These are tough times for people in Los Angeles, and for people all around America.

Too many are struggling to find work, pay their bills and afford health care.

Economists say that the recession is over. The reality is that there are still millions of Americans looking for jobs and an economy that needs rebuilding.

And this is completely unacceptable to President Obama and to me—and you can be assured that the mayor and Senator Boxer feel the same way.

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

And today, I am proud to make an announcement that represents another small but important step in that direction

I’m here to announce an investment of $7.5 million in Recovery Act funding for the City of Los Angeles to expand Los Angeles’ Computer Access Network.

This investment is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the president signed into law last year to put people back to work immediately and to lay the ground for long-term sustainable economic growth.

The Recovery Act has already brought substantial benefits to the people of California with:

  • 12 million families receiving $6.4 billion in tax relief,
  • another $6 billion in extended and expanded unemployment insurance
  • and almost 1,000 transportation infrastructure projects valued at over $3.3 billion

Also included in that act was over $7 billion to expand high-speed Internet access to underserved communities across America.

And because of the dedicated efforts of officials in Mayor Villaraigosa’s office, and at the state level, some of that funding is coming here to LA.

Almost 40 percent of households in Los Angeles lack a computer at home. Half of all residents do not have, or choose not to subscribe to, a high-speed connection.

And today, when you don't have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don't have access to all the educational and employment opportunities it provides.

This critical investment will expand computer and Internet access to Los Angeles residents most in need, bringing closer the day when every child in this city will be able to take online classes at UCLA or access everything Stanford’s library has to offer.

The funding will be used to expand and upgrade nearly 200 public computer centers at libraries, workforce centers, parks, and youth and family centers.

I'm told that as a direct result of this funding, the city expects to deploy more than 2,700 computer workstations, which will bring the total number of public access computers workstations in the city to over 4,000.

Thanks to this funding:

  • 35 youth and senior centers will be connected to high-speed Internet service for the first time with the installation of approximately 250 computer workstations;
  • Internet access will also be expanded to vulnerable communities, such as those without English speakers or with low to moderate income levels:
  • And perhaps most important, in these difficult economic times, city residents will be provided with access to job and computer training and online search engines, including the new Job Hunting Guide developed by the Los Angeles Public Library.

Investments like the one I am announcing today address a fundamental issue of equality and fairness.

Having access to the 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. We don't always reach these goals, but we have to try.

High-speed Internet access—aside from being a moral concern—is also an issue of America’s economic competitiveness.

Our best minds should be able to talk to one another, create and innovate regardless of where they come from. Over the long term, enabling our people to create new products and new ways of doing business will help create sustainable economic growth in communities throughout L.A.

This new $7.5 million grant to the city of Los Angeles to expand the Los Angeles’ Computer Access Network will pay dividends for decades to come.

And I want to congratulate everyone here today who helped put forward an excellent proposal in a very competitive process to bring this important investment to the people and the city of Los Angeles.

Thank you, and congratulations.