SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Illinois Governor JB Pritzker launched a $420 million statewide broadband expansion being labeled as “historic” under the new Rebuild Illinois capital plan.

Connect Illinois will be designed to provide better connectivity to rural areas throughout the state.  It will focus on three things: Education, telehealth and economic development.

“Too may of our towns and our counties and our communities have been left out of the digital revolution,” Pritzker said at Ridgely School in Springfield.  “We’re investing $420 million into building our states broadband infrastructure to cover everyone.”

State Senator Andy Manar, (D) Bunker Hill, believes the initiative will help schools and businesses in rural areas of his district.

“Access to high-speed internet has become a true barrier across downstate Illinois in order for those small businesses to grow,” Manar told WANDs Doug Wolfe.  “It’s going to connect schools to high-speed internet.  In some cases that will be broadband and in other cases that will be fiber connection.”

Gov. Pritzker also established a 25-member Broadband Advisory Council to oversee the expansion of broadband in rural Illinois.  Pritzker anticipates the council will have a plan in place by the end of the year.