A million Mississippians can't read this

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) - Access to the internet is the latest plan from the White House to help boost economic recovery. Wednesday, federal officials will announce how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will expand high-speed internet access in communities across the country.

Funding to expand internet access could have a huge impact in Mississippi. A study released last spring found that people in our state use the internet less than everyone else in America.

Governor Haley Barbour's office found only 55 percent of Mississippi residents use the internet and 1.1 million people in our state don't have access to high speed internet in their homes.

Under President Barack Obama's Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture are responsible for administering nearly $7 billion in grants and loans to improve high-speed internet access.

With new or increased broadband access, officials say communities will be able to compete on a level playing field to attract new businesses; schools can create distance learning opportunities; medical professionals can provide cost-efficient remote diagnoses and care, and business owners can expand the market for their products beyond their neighborhoods to better compete in the global economy.

Federal officials also say the investments will create jobs in the short term and help establish a new foundation for long-term economic growth.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist to the Vice President, will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. to announce the plan.

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