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Missouri Counties Receive $15M Infusion for Broadband Expansion

The Missouri Department of Economic Development this week announced that more than $5.6 million was awarded for projects in Lawrence County and more than $9.5 million was awarded for projects in five counties.

(TNS) — Lawrence and Vernon counties will be among those served through grant-funded projects to expand broadband services.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development on Monday awarded $261 million through the American Rescue Plan Act's Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program for projects to expand and improve Internet access across the state, Gov. Mike Parson announced. The projects are expected to create more than 55,000 connections in locations that previously lacked adequate Internet access, he said in a news release.

More than $5.6 million was awarded to Choctaw Telephone Co. for projects in Lawrence County, according to the governor's office. More than $9.5 million was awarded to Osage Valley Electric Cooperative Association for projects in five counties, including Vernon County.

Parson called the projects "a major step forward" in strengthening the state's Internet connectivity.

"Our goal with American Rescue Plan Act funds is to make investments that have a lasting, positive impact for Missourians statewide," he said in a statement. "Today, we have accomplished that for broadband expansion, which is vital to supporting education, health care, business and agriculture in today's economy."

The grant program is administered by the Department of Economic Development's Office of Broadband Development and was launched in August. It awards competitive grants to applicants that include traditional Internet providers and electric and telephone cooperatives.

In awarding grants, it prioritized unserved and underserved areas, state officials said. Funds will be used to build connections that will deliver Internet speeds of 100 Mbps or greater.

"(Monday)'s announcement is great news for Missouri businesses communities, and families who need and deserve access to quality Internet," said Maggie Kost, acting director of the Department of Economic Development, in a statement. "Broadband expansion is a critical priority, both for economic development and improving the lives of people across our state."

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