Farm Progress

Expanding broadband to rural communities remains a priority for the governor.

January 29, 2018

2 Min Read
EXPANDING REACH: Two Missouri departments are teaming up to expand broadband infrastructure. It is all part of the governor’s broadband initiative to bring high-speed internet to rural homes and communities.PinkBadger/iStock/Thinkstock

Broadband may be coming to your rural area.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, is launching a new statewide initiative to expand broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. Missouri’s rural communities are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to business development, health care and farming techniques because of a lack of high-speed internet.

Kicking off the initiative, MDED plans to hire a Missouri rural broadband manager to lead the effort and serve as a liaison among federal, state, regional and local broadband discussions. The new position will build and strengthen partnerships between public and private stakeholders, and align efforts statewide to improve broadband access.

The FCC Broadband Progress Report shows that 1.25 million Missourians — or 20% — don't have access to high-speed Internet (25 mpbs/3 mbps). The majority of those citizens live in rural communities.

In 2017, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced that, in cooperation with the state Legislature, private sector partners and the federal government, Missouri has launched a $45 million program that will enable every public school in Missouri to build the infrastructure for high-quality internet access. Today, schools are working with the administration to assess their needs and submit applications for funding.

Rural response
Here is how leaders in the agriculture community reacted to the new commitment to rural broadband:

• Chris Chinn, Missouri director of agriculture. “Connecting rural Missouri to technology and adequate internet means there will be brighter, more vibrant communities for the next generation to call home. It means additional agricultural advancements, better education, more comprehensive health care services and an enhanced quality of life.”

• Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau president. “[This] announcement, a key recommendation from an earlier statewide meeting, is a welcome step for rural Missourians. Farm Bureau members believe fast, affordable internet should be available to everyone, but our state has routinely been at the back of the pack in broadband infrastructure. Having a centralized clearinghouse to help direct traffic and lead Missouri’s infrastructure efforts can help coordinate our efforts and get service to all parts of our state much more quickly. We are thankful to Gov. Greitens for his leadership on this issue, and look forward to continuing to advocate for affordable broadband service until it is available to every Missourian.”

• Rob Dixon, acting director, Missouri Department of Economic Development. “In today’s digital age, access to the internet is a necessity for growth in almost any industry. This will help ensure that all of Missouri will have the infrastructure needed to support job creation.”

Source: Missouri Governor’s Office



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