MEDC Contracts with Merit Network to Conduct Community Planning Assistance Program
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced forward progress on the LinkMichigan high-speed telecommunications plan today.
The MEDC is contracting with Merit Network, Inc., to conduct the LinkMichigan community planning assistance program.Merit, a non-profit organization governed by Michigan's public universities, will work in partnership with the Department of Telecommunication at Michigan State University (MSU).This program will provide funding to communities to help them develop innovative last mile high-speed telecommunications plans.
“The formation of this partnership shows that the LinkMichigan plan continues to develop from a vision to reality,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.“This partnership will provide qualified consultation to local leaders throughout the state looking to develop unique strategies to make high-speed telecommunications more widely available in their communities.”
Under the agreement, Merit Network, in partnership with the MSU Department of Telecommunication, is expected to:
·Conduct a series of forums, beginning with a statewide kick-off meeting this fall.These forums will educate community officials about the funding process and requirements.The kick-off meeting will be followed by four regional meetings in the Upper Peninsula and the northern, eastern and western Lower Peninsula.
·Work with the MEDC to identify possible proposals, including providing guidance and technical assistance to local communities in developing proposals.
·Provide technical evaluations of the high-speed telecommunications proposals submitted.
"Merit is excited to be working with the MEDC, MSU and local communities to make advanced telecommunications services more widely available throughout Michigan,” said Hunt Williams, president, Merit Network, Inc."Local community planning is essential to allow solutions that are tailored to meet the unique needs of different regions of the state, to fully utilize existing local infrastructure and encourage the creation of new infrastructure by telephone, cable and other commercial telecommunication providers."
The MEDC has already established some expectations for local governments interested in applying for the planning grants.Higher funding consideration will be given to those projects that:
·Demonstrate strong local commitment, such as providing high levels of local matching funds.
·Involve more than one government jurisdiction, such as regional and/or multi-county projects.
·Show partnership and collaboration among multiple community sectors including government, business, educational, health and professional groups.
·Display an organized and thoughtful approach with concise, articulated and clearly defined needs, purposes, objectives, activities and outcomes.
"Community planning is an important ingredient for the delivery of ‘last mile’ termination for Internet and telecommunications services to Michigan's citizens, businesses and educational institutions," said Tom Muth, professor at MSU's Department of Telecommunication."MSU is pleased to contribute our expertise to support this vital planning process which continues MSU's tradition of community outreach."
Launched in May, the LinkMichigan plan offers recommendations to transform Michigan’s telecommunications infrastructure into one of the most robust and advanced in the nation.The four-step approach includes leveraging the statewide telecommunications needs to create a high-speed backbone, implementing tax and permit fairness, increasing access to high-speed telecommunication information and providing community assistance funds for last mile telecommunications solutions.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.
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