Eastern Upper Peninsula Rural Communities To Receive High Speed Broadband Internet

$3 Million CARES Grant Awarded to Merit Network

ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Merit Network was awarded a $2.99 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Recovery Assistance Grant to support construction of 70 miles of middle-mile fiber optic infrastructure in the Upper Peninsula.

The infrastructure corridor project, named Leveraging Infrastructure for Transforming the Upper Peninsula (LIFT-UP) will pass through Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties. This fiber will enable local internet service providers to interconnect with Merit’s middle-mile backhaul to bring reliable, high-speed broadband internet to rural and remote communities in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula.

The EUPConnect Collaborative, led by the Easter Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District (EUPISD) and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development Commission (EUPRPDC) will collaborate with Merit on the project. They have collaborated with Merit’s Michigan Moonshot initiative and the Quello Center for Media and Information Policy at Michigan State University for several years on citizen-scientist crowdsourced research to identify and map broadband access and adoption statistics regionally. An understanding of the prevalence and impact of the digital divide for the region was a first step in developing a blueprint for equitable access.

“The Eastern UP Regional Planning and Development Commission is excited to see this significant EDA investment in broadband for the region. Broadband availability and accessibility has long been the highest priority in our region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. The MERIT LIFT-UP project will provide much needed investment to move the needle on this issue and make the region more economically competitive on the national and global stage,” said Jeff Hagan, CEO of EUP Regional Planning.

“Every community deserves access to modern digital infrastructure to support education, telemedicine, public safety, workforce needs and economic development, regardless of geographic location. This new federal investment in the Eastern UP helps advance this goal, and…