WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced today that a $2,136,655 grant was awarded to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Access Center project to expand public computer access in Lucas County. The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds, distributed through the U.S Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), will increase public access to computer centers by up to 36 hours per week, add nearly 110 new workstations, and upgrade 20 more computers at two public library locations.

"Jobs of the 21st century require 21st century tools and resources. Schoolchildren, adult learners, and job seekers will benefit from the computer resources added to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system," Brown said. "Expanding computer access is critical to ensuring the economic strength of all our state's communities."

The @CCESS Center project plans to renovate and expand an existing library computer center and add a mobile unit to provide broadband access and training. With these funds, the library also proposes to provide classes for small business owners and those interested in starting a small business. Proposed class topics include writing a business plan, business finances, health and safety regulations, and starting your own small business, as well as a key course: Retooling Your Life, which plans to teach patrons about job searches, interviewing skills, educational opportunities, and public benefits.

According to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, more than 3.6 million visitors were served last year and nearly 75 percent of county residents have library cards.

Brown sponsored the Rural Broadband Act that would establish a federal Office of Broadband Initiatives dedicated to creating a comprehensive rural broadband strategic vision and increasing access to the Internet in rural parts of the United States. Brown also authored an amendment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) to increase USDA funding for broadband. The amendment directed $2.5 billion through the USDA to target rural and underserved communities.  With new or increased broadband access, 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. The investments will create jobs in the short term and help establish a new foundation for long-term economic growth.