Governor Laura Kelly visits McFarland to Celebrate $5 million in Grants to Expand Broadband to Homes, Businesses Statewide
Joe Denoyer - March 12, 2021 8:36 am
TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that through the Broadband Acceleration Grant Program, 14 broadband improvement projects totaling $5 million will improve access to high-speed internet for homes and businesses in 18 communities statewide.
“Broadband access has been an overlooked problem in Kansas and across the country for years – but my administration knows it’s a game-changer, particularly for rural and underserved areas of our state,” Governor Kelly said. “These grants use an aggressive timeline to support urgent broadband needs that came to light during the pandemic. We’re committed to ensuring every Kansan has access to the connection they need for telehealth, virtual school, and to ensure business can compete in an increasingly digital-focused economy.”
The Broadband Acceleration Grant program was created in 2020 to bring critically needed broadband access to Kansas communities. Funded through the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE), the Office of Broadband Development administers the program to make more ‘last-mile’ connections possible across the state.
This first year of the 10-year program initiated by Governor Kelly invests $5 million in grants with another $5 million in matching contributions from the awardees, resulting in a $10 million total investment in the community. These projects were selected following a competitive funding round, and all proposed projects were made available for public review. To encourage input, a public comment period was included in the process, ensuring transparency and community feedback in the process of making awards.
“We said we would be aggressive about improving broadband access, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” David Toland, Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary, said. “This is only the beginning, and the Kelly administration is committed to seeing every Kansan connected. Through this initial round of grants, we are laying a strong foundation to continue to build a robust broadband infrastructure for our state, now and into the future.”
“COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the importance of broadband connectivity as it relates to distance learning, remote work and telehealth services,” Julie Lorenz, Transportation Secretary, said. “It’s critical infrastructure as important as safe roads, bridges and drinking water.”
Applicants, awarded grant amounts and matching investments are as follows:
“The efficient infrastructure deployments enabled through these grants are vital to making scarce funding dollars stretch as far as possible by building on previous successes in our pandemic response programs,” Stanley Adams, Director of the Kansas Office of Broadband Development, said. “Governor Kelly recognizes that robust broadband access is necessary for all communities, and I appreciate her commitment to this effort. As a result, many more Kansans will be connected.”