Broadband workshop helps expand internet access to rural Missourians | State News

JEFFERSON CITY – The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development held its fourth broadband workshop Thursday at the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The workshop aims to help rural communities apply for federal funding to expand local broadband networks through the ReConnect program.

ReConnect loans and grants help expand access to high-speed internet for millions of people in rural America nationwide. The USDA has more than $1 billion available, from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“I can tell you in the state of Missouri, we’re doing our best with workshops like this, to make sure that entities understand that round four is in the application process, and it’s time to get you want to get involved. It’s time to come ask us,” Kyle Wilkens, the state director of USDA rural development, said.

The companies who apply for the grants say the funding helps them reach more homes.

“We’re doing a lot of building right now in what we would just, say more denser areas,” Chief Strategy Officer of Wyre broadband Jim Patterson said. “We want to be able to provide services throughout the county. This makes it easier to expand and to improve our total coverage throughout a county rather than just the cities.”

Missouri ranks in the bottom 25 of U.S. states not having adequate broadband access, according to BroadbandNow.

For more information on how to apply, visit the USDA’s website.

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