Ann Arbor-based Merit Network Inc. will break ground Tuesday on a 2,287-mile broadband stimulus project that will benefit rural areas in Michigan and the Midwest.

The groundbreaking will take place at the Manistee Intermediate School District, 772 E. Parkdale Ave. in Manistee.

The Manistee ISD is the first community anchor institution connected by the REACH-3MC broadband stimulus project. The event will host key stakeholders.

In 2010, Merit Network received two federal stimulus awards for REACH-3MC. The Rural Education, Anchor, Community and Healthcare Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative (REACH-3MC) will create 2,287 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure in many rural areas of Michigan and provide backhaul to key connection points in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Through REACH-3MC, Merit will enable state and local governments, colleges, schools, libraries, health care facilities and other community anchor institutions to connect to Merit’s private, high-performance network, enabling them to lower costs, consolidate services and provide more to Michigan’s citizens.

Merit engages commercial sub-recipients on REACH-3MC to improve service to homes and businesses. Merit’s existing fiber infrastructure combined with the new REACH-3MC network infrastructure creates a robust footprint in the state, providing Michigan with a strategic asset to leverage in the future.

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