The Department of Agriculture and Department of Commerce recently announced that funding will soon be available for projects to help expand broadband access to communities with limited internet service. Many parts of Pennsylvania, especially rural areas, lack adequate internet service, and individuals in those communities cannot access the information many of us take for granted. Grants and loans will fund projects to help more people get connected.
Through these funding programs, communities may apply for a portion of the $7.2 billion included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand access to broadband services. Application submissions for the first of the three rounds of funding will open July 14, 2009 and close August 14, 2009. I encourage communities from all over Pennsylvania to apply for this very important funding.
Visit the Broadband USA website to learn more about these programs or apply for funding.
Guy Dunn, a Drexel Hill resident, was recently awarded over $300,000 for an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) contract to install digital television convertors in Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Delaware. Mr. Dunn's business will now be able to hire and additional thirty workers, ninety percent of whom are also minorities. His company, The Idea Guy LLC, will perform over 5,000 free installations of converter boxes to ensure that constituents are prepared for the switch to digital television broadcasting. This contract from the ARRA is creating jobs for minority owned small businesses while meeting the other needs of our State and local communities.
I share President Obama's commitment to the oversight and transparency of funds distributed from the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is important that minority and women owned business are treated equitably in the distribution of federal contracts. I will continue work diligently to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have an equal opportunity to access funding to sustain and grow their businesses.
Vice-President Joe Biden has begun a tour of the country to highlight infrastructure improvements made possible by the Economic Stimulus Package. Pennsylvania was his first stop on the "Road to Recovery" tour. The Vice-President visited a bridge in Carlisle PA, his second visit to this bridge since February. The eighty year old bridge is being replaced using $1.7 million of federal funding, and will reopen by the end of November, 2009.
This bridge is one of many projects in Pennsylvania that will has received funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Pennsylvania will receive almost $5 billion through ARRA that will go towards infrastructure improvements and education initiatives that will create and protect jobs across the state.
I have great news to share. Only a day after his nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dan Rooney was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland late Thursday evening by a unanimous vote of the United States Senate. While it typically takes several weeks following their confirmation hearing before an uncontroversial nominee is confirmed by the full Senate, I recognized that it made no sense to force a civic treasure like Dan Rooney to wait on an arbitrary timetable. Thus, I worked closely with Chairman John Kerry and the lead Republican, Dick Lugar, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to "hotline" his nomination in a span of 24 hours. It took some work but was well worth it.
I couldn't be more proud of a fellow Pennsylvanian. As Dan prepares to depart for Ireland to represent our Nation, he does so with an uncommon blend of humility and decency that has made him a beloved icon of Steeler Nation for more than 50 years.
On St. Patrick's Day, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Dan Rooney, the Chairman and principal owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to be the next United States Ambassador to Ireland. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to deliver an opening statement at Dan's confirmation hearing conveying my strong endorsement of Dan as an ideal American to represent our Nation’s interests in the Emerald Isle.
Dan is a good friend, an outstanding leader, and a proud Pennsylvanian. Dan’s lifelong interest in the Irish culture and his passion for fostering a greater partnership between our two nations gives me confidence that he is the right man for the job. Although this nomination means he will be parting with the Steelers, I know that Dan is leaving our beloved team in good hands. I look forward to his confirmation and his future service to our country.