U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced 35 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs and improve education and healthcare across the country. The investments, totaling $482.4 million in grants, will fund projects that pave the way to bring enhanced high-speed Internet access to millions of households and businesses and link thousands of schools, hospitals, libraries and public safety offices to the information superhighway.

“In a globalized 21st century economy, when you don’t have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don’t have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides,” Locke said. “These critical Recovery Act investments will create jobs and lay the groundwork for long-term sustainable economic growth in communities across America.”

“These projects will have a real, lasting impact on communities across the country,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary for communications and information and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administrator. “We are investing in ‘middle mile’ networks that bring high-speed Internet access to communities and connect key anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries and hospitals. We are also investing in projects to improve access and spur Internet usage and adoption. This allows us to get the most bang for every grant dollar and award projects that will address communities’ broadband problems, while creating jobs and facilitating sustainable economic growth.”

The NTIA and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service are administering nearly $7 billion Recovery Act initiatives to expand access to and adoption of broadband services. NTIA is using approximately $4 billion of that funding for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.

The announcement is part of the second round of BTOP grant awards, which will continue on a rolling basis. NTIA has thus far announced 216 BTOP grants that benefit communities across the nation.