Gov. Mike Parson announced Friday nearly $50 million to support broadband expansion in Missouri, including funds directed at telehealth and education. Earlier in the day, the Parson signed a measure that expands a state program until 2027.

Funding for the new programs comes in large part from the Coronavirus Relief Fund — federal funds distributed to the state — and is aimed at improving resiliency and aiding in the COVID-19 response.

“Providing Missourians essential services during this time is one of our top priorities,” Parson said. “Ensuring citizens have appropriate access to telehealth and education and that they are able to telework is critical. These are not optional services, and we want to do our best to increase connectivity across the state.”

Miserable internet access in some parts of the state — including in this area — became apparent as the school districts shutdown in March and attempted to hold some instruction remotely.

The state estimates 300,000 Missouri households, 195,000 K-12 students and 54,000 businesses and farms lack access to high speed internet.

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The expansion includes several new initiatives.

Emergency Broadband Investment: This initiative allocates $20 million to establish a reimbursement program for broadband providers. It will assist providers with construction costs for new broadband expansion to households with students or vulnerable populations. By November, this program plans to make more than 10,000 new connections in unserved and underserved areas of the state.

Telehealth: $5.25 million will support connectivity for telehealth services for vulnerable populations. In partnership with Missouri Telehealth Network, located with the University of Missouri – Columbia’s School of Medicine, more than 12,500 hotspots will be secured for use by the Federally Qualified Health Centers and the Community Mental Health Centers.

Libraries: The office of the state librarian within the secretary of state’s office will deploy $2.5 million to implement and administer a grant program for Missouri’s libraries to access resources for hotspots and Wi-Fi enabled devices to support telehealth and students of higher education.

K-12 Distance Learning: The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will allocate $10 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to seek reimbursement for eligible costs to increase student connectivity.

Higher Education Distance Learning: The Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development will allocate $10 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund to public institutions to upgrade the campus broadband networks, offer students access to Wi-Fi enabled devices or hotspots, and enhance learning management systems.

Broadband Technical Assistance Request: The Missouri Association of Councils of Government (MACOG) and DED have partnered together to apply for nearly $615,000 in grant support from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support a pilot project for broadband modeling and engineering feasibility plans for up to 24 counties or eight regional clusters.

“Improving Missouri’s digital infrastructure is essential to the resiliency of our economy in this pandemic and beyond,” Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon said. “By providing these essential resources, we are better able to work toward economic recovery, and help Missourians prosper.”

Locally, the Houston City Council is deploying a fiber-to-the home internet system that will provide high speed internet to homes and businesses. That first phase of the construction is slated to begin soon. A top priority is deployment on the Houston School District campus before classes start later this year.



For more information about these new initiatives, visit

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