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 Champions participated in a panel moderated by Assistant Secretary and NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling and discussed how their projects are key to revitalizing their communities. View the full program here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqTzjLTL_Ug
During the panel discussion, Freddoso explained how MCNC's North Carolina project is already creating jobs for construction workers and local vendors such as CommScope in Hickory, N.C., which is supplying fiber and other materials to both projects. “We have forty crews of ten to twenty people out in the field installing fiber every day, said Freddoso “A conduit plant that was basically idle before the BTOP (NTIA’s broadband grant) program is now at full capacity.”
Freddoso also mentioned that the project is creating new opportunities across the state in places such as Kannapolis, N.C., a former textile mill town that is reinventing itself as a biotechnology and life sciences hub.
In discussing how the new and upgraded infrastructure will benefit local institutions, Welch explained how the Michigan network will enable universities and research centers, especially those located in remote areas, to perform new types of data-intensive research. He also pointed to an initiative to help rural school districts share resources and cut costs as an example of how the high-speed network can be used.
In addition to Freddoso and Welch, representatives from the District of Columbia , University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) , and State of Maryland  NTIA broadband Recovery Act projects were present at the event as well as a Commscope Representative from North Carolina.
NTIA's Recovery Act broadband infrastructure projects are connecting communities across the country to high-speed Internet, creating jobs, and supporting economic growth.
Champion of Change Blogs:
Merit President & CEO Don Welch: Rebuilding a Network ,Redefining a Community 
MCNC President & CEO Joe Freddoso: Fiber Optic Networks: Powering Next Wave of Education