As I have said for years, rural Missouri desperately needs better Internet coverage. Updating broadband Internet services throughout not only northwest Missouri, but also all of our state, has been a priority of mine since before I came to the Missouri Senate. The Legislature has worked on this crucial issue for quite some time; however, we are now getting some additional help.
Thanks to the governor and the Missouri Department of Economic Development, our state is in line to receive approximately $3 million in grants to establish broadband Internet coverage in rural Missouri. I believe more than 4,000 people will benefit from this additional funding.
In my opinion, we have learned, over the course of the last month, just how crucial reliable Internet service is to our ability to function. Now that we are all teachers for our children, having the tools needed to get classwork from one point to another is extremely important. Beyond this, just having the ability to connect with the world in everyday life depends more and more on a fast online connection. However, for too many people in small towns across our state, this is something yet to be realized. I am hopeful this grant will help remedy the situation.
The providers who will do the work say it will probably take the rest of the year to finish these projects. This is not to say everyone will suddenly have high-speed Internet, but I am confident that these grants will go a long way in providing Internet access to rural Missourians. From virtual workstations to online learning and e-commerce, I believe a reliable, fast Internet connection is an important part of our ability to stay connected to the world around us. It isn’t just about Netflix and social media, this technology gives us the ability to access critical services, learn outside of the classroom and so much more.
As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is 573-751-1415, my email is email@example.com and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.
Dan Hegeman is the 12th District State Senator.