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Gov. Whitmer Announces Over 70,000 Unserved Michigan Homes, Businesses to Connect to High-Speed Internet Through $203M in First Round of Grant Awards

Michigan Business Network
October 27, 2023 5:00 PM

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First round of ROBIN awards to provide accessible, affordable high-speed internet access to unserved Michiganders across the state  

LANSING, Mich. – Thursday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) announced $203 million has been awarded in the first round of the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program to connect over 70,000 unserved Michigan homes and businesses to high-speed internet.    

In total, the ROBIN, program will provide $238 million in federal funding to support the deployment of high-speed internet to more than 90,000 unserved locations throughout the state thanks to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund investment. The funding is a major steppingstone to the Biden administration’s Internet for All initiative, which will provide more than $48 billion for infrastructure deployment, skills training and access to technologies essential for Americans to connect with their communities and one another.     

"Every Michigander deserves access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet that meets their needs,” said Governor Whitmer. “With the first round of ROBIN grant awards, we are going to connect more than 70,000 households, businesses, and community institutions in areas across Michigan that have too often been left out or left behind to high-speed internet. We know that a reliable connection is not a luxury—it's a necessity for health care, education, employment, entertainment, and so much more. Let’s keep working together to connect more Michiganders to high-speed internet so we can grow our economy and ensure everyone can ‘make it’ in Michigan.”    

MIHI received 154 grant applications from 40 applicants for the ROBIN program. Nearly $2.3 billion in project costs were proposed requesting $1.3 billion in grant funds. After reviewing and scoring each application, 24 projects from 11 applicants moved forward as ROBIN Initial Grant Recommendations (IGRs).    

“Affordable access to high-speed internet unlocks opportunities in education, jobs, health care, and more,” said state Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City). “These ROBIN awards will help expand broadband to nearly 1500 unserved locations in our Great Lakes Bay Region. I can’t overstate how meaningful that is for our residents and local economy.”   

“One of the biggest hurdles we need to overcome to jumpstart economic development in places like Northern Michigan is access to high-speed internet,” said state Representative Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City). “I am thrilled to see more homes and businesses will be connected to this vital service to help kids complete their schoolwork and entrepreneurs reach their customers.”   

The first round of ROBIN Grants total $203M in grant funds and are being awarded to 18 total projects from 9 applicants, with a total match investment of $202M. Collectively, these projects represent a total investment of $405M and will connect 71,333 locations to fiber-to-the-home service with opportunities for gigabit connections.    

"We are excited to announce the first round ROBIN Grant awardees that will provide much-needed funding support for the development and expansion of broadband infrastructure to underserved Michigan communities,” said Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “We know that access to affordable high-speed internet has become a necessity in our professional, personal and social lives. These funds will assist in all Michiganders in getting connected and lead to more economic opportunities.”    

Later this fall, MIHI will be announcing a second round of recommended projects to expend the remainder of the funding available for the ROBIN grant program which will ensure connectivity to even more locations across the state. The second round of recommended projects will be subject to a 45-day comment and objection period starting the day they are announced.    

“ROBIN is a critical part of Michigan’s broadband expansion plan to the state’s unserved areas and will provide internet service providers and public-private partnerships the funds to deploy broadband infrastructure,” said Eric Frederick, Michigan’s chief connectivity officer. “ROBIN is the first piece of the puzzle in getting all Michigander’s connected and we are eager to get the funds out the door.”    

Additionally, MIHI recently released a draft of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program Initial Proposal Volume 1 that details how the state will operate the BEAD Challenge Process and identify every home, business and institution in the state without high-speed internet. The public comment period for the draft closes at 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2023. Michigan received a $1.559 billion allocation in the BEAD Program to ensure the universal availability of high-speed internet across the state. The application for the BEAD Program is anticipated to open in mid-2024.    

To view a list and map of final grant awards, get notified when the second round of ROBIN projects are published or submit a public comment on the BEAD Initial Proposal, visit Michigan.gov/MIHI.   



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