updated 4/2/2010 3:53:44 PM ET 2010-04-02T19:53:44

The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded $24 million to a nonprofit group to attract $78 million in federal dollars for high-speed Internet access across North Carolina.

When combined with other state matching funds, the total project cost would be $111 million.

Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach says that would be the largest expenditure on expanding broadband access in North Carolina history.

The money will go to bringing more than 1,448 miles of broadband fiber to 69 counties, 67 of which are currently lagging in high-speed Internet capability.

The Research Triangle Park-based nonprofit MCNC will be in charge of the project.

Gerlach says the federal government will make its decision about the $78 million by summer.

The state Legislature created the Golden Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation in 1999 to manage and distribute half of North Carolina's share of the national tobacco settlement.

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