Walker awards grants for more rural internet access

Eau Claire (WQOW) – More Wisconsin residents will soon have access to high speed internet service thanks to some grants Governor Scott Walker awarded Monday in Eau Claire. 

Walker was at Chippewa Valley Technical College to award 46 new broadband grants.

That money will extend broadband access to as many as 1,600 business locations and 18,000 homes in 33  counties. 

The state grant is $7.69 million, but with matching funds from local governments and private business, it will total $11.8 million. 

Eau Claire County is partnering with Packerland Broadband to get a $200,000 grant to help provide high speed internet service in unserved and under-served areas in Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties. 

"That will help us retain our graduates, attract new graduates here, which when we have 2.8 percent unemployment, the lowest we’ve ever had, that is a good problem to have, but it’s definitely a challenge is how do we attract more people, how do we keep more of our graduates?" Walker said.

No word yet on how many people the Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties project would serve. 

Through other grants in Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Polk, Rusk and St. Croix Counties, more than 1,100 homes and businesses will have new access to broadband. 

Walker said the goal is to have high speed internet access for everyone in the state, within the next few years. 

Here are some more local counties affected. For more information click here.

Menomonie (Dunn Co) – 37 homes/biz
Caryville (EC/Dunn Co) – 33 homes/biz
Apple River (Polk Co) – 150 homes, biz 
Town of St. Joseph (St. Croix Co) – 260 homes/biz 
Somerset (St. Croix Co) – 163 homes/biz
Towns of Howard and Tilden (Chippewa Co) – 113 homes/biz 
Town of Milton (Buffalo Co) – 245 homes/biz 
Island Lake (Rusk Co) – 119 homes/biz 
Town of Forest (St. Croix Co) – 33 homes/biz
Town of Lorain (Polk Co) – 18 homes/biz

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