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Federal dollars aid broadband access in Akron

AP file photo
AP file photo
Gary Kazanjian / AP Images for LG One

The city of Akron learned Tuesday it is getting millions in federal stimulus dollars for broadband expansion. The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce is sending $2 million to the Akron Urban League.

“These stimulus funds will create new jobs and provide skills that are an important part of utilizing our community broadband network,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic. “It puts the Internet in the hands of the people who will benefit most- those unserved or under served right now.”

The Akron Urban League is expected to hire more than a dozen people to train low income residents over two years in how to apply for jobs online, how to access health care and wellness resources, and how to enroll in education programs. Funds will also be used to allow access to the Internet in under served neighborhoods.

The federal stimulus dollars were sent to Akron as part of an application submitted by the city's partner in building out a wireless broadband network. OneCommunity is an Ohio based non-profit pushing information technologies to spur economic development. Akron is one of seven select cities nationwide to take part in the pilot project

“We are eager to partner with the city of Akron and Akron Urban League to participate in this national model of creating sustainable broadband access, adoption and meaningful use,” said Scot Rourke, President of OneCommunity, in a press release provided by the city.

“Connect Akron” was launched last June in the downtown area at a cost of $2.2 million with the city chipping in initial capital costs of nearly $400,000 and five years of operating costs of $80,000. The John S. Knight foundation, the University of Akron and other Partners made up the difference.

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