For Missouri, Broadband means business

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, runaway inflation and continued supply chain interruptions, job creators in Missouri have faced their fair share of headwinds during the past two years.

We’ve remained resilient, but for Missouri to bounce back strong, it’s vital policymakers remain focused on supporting renewed growth through wise investments in our communities and our infrastructure. High on that priority list is closing the digital divide, which remains one of the most pressing issues facing rural communities, with an estimated 422,000 Missourians and many businesses without access to high-speed broadband.

There is simply no way for communities with inadequate internet service to build a favorable economic climate for business, manufacturing and industry. Too often, companies are forced to take their operations elsewhere, small business owners struggle to find a competitive edge, and Missouri manufacturers lose out on a chance to compete in the global economy.

Fortunately, steps are being taken by Gov. Mike Parson and leaders in the legislature to capitalize on a historic influx of federal funding to help close the gap in unserved communities. Through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, the American Rescue Plan Act, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other sources, Missouri will be able to tap into hundreds of millions of dollars to implement projects that expand access and build out the state’s broadband infrastructure. It is vital we do not let this opportunity go to waste.

To read the full op-ed in the News Tribune, click here.