Gov. Chris Gregoire today joined leaders in Kennewick, and issued the following statement to help celebrate the completion of broadband expansion projects that bring high-speed internet access to underserved communities of southeast Washington:
"Today is certainly a milestone in Washington state -- one that was no small feat to achieve. I commend our private and public partners who worked together to ensure that 99 percent of Washingtonians now have access to high speed internet.
"I learned early on in my first administration the power of high-speed internet, and continue to appreciate its importance. We can probably all remember the first email we sent or received -- now it's a critical tool that fosters business relationships, connects people with their doctor, and helps Washingtonians maintain close connections with family and friends. On-line college courses used to be a novelty. Now, students in Washington state have the ability to earn 4-year and master's degrees through on-line colleges, like Western Governors University.
"It is clear, competing in a global economy relies on access to high-speed internet. That's why over the course of my administration, we have put significant focus on ensuring all areas of the state, particularly our rural areas, have access to broadband. Our work has benefited schools, libraries, medical and emergency facilities, and the businesses and individuals who are helping to lead us through this recovery.
"Additionally, our efforts have caught the attention of the federal government. Because of Washington state's leadership, our state received more than $243 million from the federal government for broadband expansion. The state of Washington received nearly seven percent of total federal broadband funding -- even though we represent just two percent of the U.S. population.
"I'm proud to say that as of today, broadband is reaching more than 170 Washington communities and 2000 schools, along with hospitals, emergency responders, libraries and colleges and universities. Just last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Washington state is among the top three "wired' states in the country.
"This isn't the time to rest. I'm committed to ensuring that Washington state remains a leader in implementing the latest developments in technology that benefit our families, businesses and communities. I'm confident that with continued help from our public and private partners, Washington will continue to lead the nation in the 21st century."
For more information on broadband in Washington state, visit: www.broadband.wa.gov