URBANA – The Illinois Broadband Lab, a collaboration between the Illinois Office of Broadband and University of Illinois System, invites residents and local organizations in the Chicago Southland to in-person listening sessions in Joliet on Wednesday, May 31. 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 Collar Counties Illinois Broadband Regional Engagement for Adoption + Digital Equity (READY) team is led by Chicago State University. That group is partnering with the Illinois Broadband Lab to host the following events for the Chicago Southland:

  • Public listening session focused on accessibility needs related to digital equity
    • May 31 – 2-3 p.m. – Joliet City Council Chambers, 150 W Jefferson St, Joliet, IL 60432 – REGISTER
  • Residents, non-profits and community-based organizations
    • May 31 – 4-5 p.m. – Joliet City Council Chambers, 150 W Jefferson St, Joliet, IL 60432 – REGISTER

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.