WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced an investment of over $80 million in broadband expansion grants for the Louisiana Board of Regents.

“We have taken a big leap in our efforts to expand high-speed internet throughout rural Louisiana, including the Delta parishes in the Northeast part of our state," Sen. Landrieu said. “Creating jobs and spurring rural small business growth, these new funds will increase broadband capacity at our homes, schools, and hospitals to advance education, research, and healthcare delivery to areas in need of modern infrastructure. I am thankful for the Department of Commerce’s support of this, and the many, innovative projects we have underway in Louisiana to improve broadband access.”

“This critical investment will expand computer and high-speed Internet service access to Louisiana residents most in need, helping to make them full participants in today’s 21st century information economy, said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “We are giving the people of Louisiana new tools to educate themselves, to promote their businesses and to create more opportunities for their families and their community.”

The investment, totaling $80,596,415, is a multi-partner project of the Louisiana Broadband Alliance, being headed by the Louisiana Board of Regents and Louisiana Public Broadcasting and encompasses more than 3,400 square miles of service. The project will target 21 parishes in rural Louisiana including those in the Louisiana Delta Region and the four federally-recognized Native American Indian Tribes. The funds will allow for the expansion of broadband internet access to approximately 100,000 households and more than 15,000 businesses in some of the most underserved areas of Louisiana.

“The Board of Regents has committed to small business providers in the state that before utilizing the grant dollars, we will work together with the goal of ensuring that expenditures will complement the existing infrastructure and investment they have made,” said Dr. Sally Clausen, Commissioner of Higher Education for the Board of Regents. “We extend our deepest appreciation to Senator Landrieu and Secretary Locke for this award that will better connect our schools and their students, thus providing them with better opportunities for education and economic success.”

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested $4 billion in grants to bring broadband internet service to unserved, underserved and rural communities across the nation. Applications are currently being accepted for the second round of funding. Information on applying for a grant can be found by clicking here.

Today’s announcement is one of the many awards Louisiana has received - including five broadband expansion awards totaling more than $61 million. To view more information on Senator Landrieu’s broadband expansion efforts, please click here.

To view the press release from the Department of Commerce, please click here.