URBANA – The Illinois Broadband Lab, a collaboration between the Illinois Office of Broadband and University of Illinois System, invites residents and local organizations in Illinois’ northern stateline region and collar counties to in-person listening sessions in Rockford on Tuesday, May 23, in Libertyville on Wednesday, May 24, and in Kankakee on Thursday, May 25. The events will give the public a forum for asking questions and providing input about the region’s most urgent needs and priorities related to high-speed internet connectivity and access.

The Northern Stateline and Collar Counties Illinois Broadband Regional Engagement for Adoption + Digital Equity (READY) teams are led by the Region 1 Economic Development Council and Chicago State University, respectively. Those groups are partnering with the Illinois Broadband Lab to host the following events for the northern stateline region and collar counties:

  • Listening sessions with residents, non-profits and community organizations
    • May 23 – 12-1 p.m. – Rockford Public Library Nordlof Center, 118 N. Main St., Rockford, IL 61101
    • May 24 – 3-4 p.m. – Lake County Central Permit Facility, 500 W. Winchester Rd., Libertyville, IL 60048
    • May 25 – 5-6 p.m. – Kankakee Public Library Auditorium, 201 E. Merchant St., Kankakee, IL 60901

The community outreach events are one way that Illinois residents can contribute to the state’s plan to invest federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity (DE) programs.

To ensure that federal BEAD and digital equity funding addresses demonstrated barriers and needs – for instance, the 285,000-plus Illinois households without physical access to basic internet service and the over 1.1 million Illinois residents without the devices and skills to use the internet – the Illinois Broadband Lab will work with a wide range of community organizations, local governments, and broadband stakeholders to gather critical input.