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Illinois trying to recover $2 million broadband Internet grant from three years ago

The state of Illinois continues to try to reclaim a $2 million grant it awarded a company that promised to install ultra-high-speed Internet access throughout Chicago’s South Side only to drop the project nearly two years after getting the money.

“We are pursuing the legal means available to recover the $2 million granted to Gigabit Squared during Gov. [Pat] Quinn’s administration, and anticipate moving the matter forward in due course,” Steven Savage, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said in a statement Monday in response to a Sun-Times query.

The former CEO and co-founder of Gigabit Squared, Mark Ansboury, is now an executive with another company planning to install high-speed Internet access in downtown Detroit that’s 100 times faster than typical residential speeds, according to information on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Two former spokesmen for Gigabit Squared said Monday they are no longer affiliated with the company. Ansboury could not be reached for comment.

On Oct. 16, 2012, Gov. Pat Quinn announced the $2 million in Illinois Jobs Now capital funding as a seed investment to Gigabit Squared as part of a statewide competition to set up ultra-high-speed broadband networks across Illinois.

Meanwhile, separate plans are going ahead to install ultra-high-speed Internet access at the former U.S. Steel South Works site redevelopment at 87th and South Lake Shore Drive, according to a spokesman for the developer, McCaffery Interests.

The goal is for businesses and 50,000 residents of the Chicago Lakeside development to be “tech-infused” from the get-go, having access to everything from a “smart” utility grid to tailored retail sales ads that pop up as a shopper walks by a store.