The 12th Senatorial District covers a large area of northwest Missouri that encompasses many rural communities. As your senator, I have been a strong champion of increasing access to high-speed broadband internet in our region. By securing broadband internet access, we can prepare our small towns to meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy.
Not only is access to broadband internet increasingly becoming a necessity, I also believe it represents a great opportunity to grow and enhance rural communities. Big cities often drive the economy, providing the largest number of jobs with the highest salaries. Not everyone wants to live and raise a family in a densely-populated urban environment. With high-speed internet, small towns have the chance to be the best of both worlds: great places to work and live affordably, but also places that are attractive to employers who allow workers to telecommute in lieu of always traveling to a centralized workplace.
I am happy to report some good news. In May, the Federal Communications Commission authorized a $22 million grant for the purpose of providing high-speed internet access to 13 different Missouri counties including six in the 12th Senatorial District: Andrew, Clay, Clinton, DeKalb, Gentry and Nodaway. This is in addition to a $176 million multistate grant approved by the FCC in August. Together, these two grants are estimated to provide thousands of Missouri homes with broadband internet access over the course of the next 10 years.
Missouri added to this effort of bringing broadband to rural Missouri by including Gov. Parson’s recommendation of $5 million in the 2019-20 budget. This is intended to assist in supporting this expansion by bridging any gaps in federal and local funding.