(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the announcement made by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke that Washington state would receive a $54 million federal investment to build new broadband lines to communities across the state. The funding was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which Senator Murray helped pass into law. The funding will go to the Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) a non-profit corporation of public utility districts that has partnered to provide access to libraries, hospitals, businesses and homeowners.

“This investment will help bring affordable and high-speed broadband access to underserved communities across Washington state,” said Senator Murray. “Broadband internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity—for small business looking to expand and create jobs, and for communities hoping to provide families with access to better health care and better education. I was proud to fight for investments in broadband expansion that will take us closer toward our goal of bringing high-speed internet to every corner of Washington state.”

This investment will allow NoaNet to directly connect as many as 285 community institutions to affordable broadband. As many as 206,400 people stand to benefit as do 14,000 businesses.  In addition, the expansion of broadband access will support economic growth in communities across Washington state and will directly create more than 100 jobs.       

Senator Murray is a longtime supporter of expanding broadband access to communities throughout Washington state. Senator Murray has introduced and supported several bills that aim to bring high-speed internet access to rural areas including her bill to expand broadband construction by $4 billion, the Community Telecommunications Planning Act, the Broadband Internet Access Act and the Rural Broadband Enhancement Act. She has also worked to include funding for access programs in the Farm Bill and Recovery Act. In 2000, Senator Murray chaired a conference in Spokane, aimed at helping small and rural communities take advantage of new telecommunications technologies.