Ann Arbor-based Merit Network Inc. Thursday announced the addition of Jim Lundberg to the Merit staff as the Upper Peninsula Member Relations Manager.

Lundberg recently retired from Bay de Noc Community College, where he spent 30 years, including the last 15 years as the Director of Technical Services.

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Said Lundberg: “I am just absolutely thrilled and honored to join Merit. It is such a class organization that I have so much respect for. It is an organization that I truly believe in and I share their vision for the future. I see the REACH-3MC project as a very important project for the economic future of the Upper Peninsula. As an educator, over the years I have seen that our biggest export from the UP, has been our young people. They graduate from high school, go to college and get a degree and must leave the UP as there are relatively few high tech jobs. I see the REACH-3MC project as being essential for attracting high-tech businesses to the UP. We have such a great quality of life in the UP and a low cost of living, all of this makes the UP a great place to locate a business.”

Merit Network is building a 2,297 mile fiber-optic network throughout the state of Michigan with the assistance of two grants totaling $102 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the federal stimulus. The grants, from a part of the stimulus called the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, were matched 20 percent by Merit and its sub-recipients. The REACH-3MC project is one of the largest BTOP projects in the country and is expected to serve 52 counties in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

“The economic development opportunity that this infrastructure brings to the area is significant,” said Elwood Downing, Merit vice president of member relations, communications and services. “Merit is happy to have Jim Lundberg join the Merit team to assist organizations in the Upper Peninsula in taking advantage of this important infrastructure.”

Merit has long held a presence in the Upper Peninsula and provides connectivity to Northern Michigan University, Michigan Technological University and Lake Superior State University, which are all governing Members of Merit. Merit currently connects all of the Independent School Districts in the Upper Peninsula with the exception of the Menominee ISD.

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“The REACH-3MC fiber infrastructure will come right to their front door, and we look forward to working with them to provide connectivity to this important school district,” Downing said.

Some additional Merit Members in the Upper Peninsula include Bay College, Superiorland Library Cooperative, Northpointe Behavioral Healthcare Systems, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and the Michigan State Police post in St. Ignace.

Added Merit Network president and CEO Don Welch: “Merit is guided by a vision of equal access to information for all Michigan citizens — regardless of geographic location, and I believe that we are positioned to make significant progress in achieving this goal for the Upper Peninsula, and the rest of the state.”

And Jason Russell, director of Merit member relations, added: “As Merit builds the fiber optic infrastructure through the Upper Peninsula, with spurs to Duluth, Minnesota and Green Bay, Wisconsin, having a Merit team member located in the Upper Peninsula to support our members is a critical part of the Merit outreach plan. Jim Lundberg, with his vast knowledge of the networking needs in the area, as well as his significant knowledge of Merit and its members will be an incredible resource to both Merit as well as the anchor institutions in this beautiful and critical area of our state”.

Merit Network, a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities, owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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