Picture of mayor and state's broadband director.
Tim Arbeiter, left, visits with Houston Mayor Willy Walker at a ceremony to launch a municipally owned fiber-to-the home internet system locally. Credit: FILE PHOTO

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday unveiled a plan to use $400 million in federal funding to boost access to high-speed internet.

Parson unveiled his plan for the federal American Rescue Plan relief funding while speaking to reporters at the Missouri State Fair.

“We expect this investment to increase broadband internet connectivity and access in every corner of the state for hundreds of thousands of Missourians,” Parson said in a statement. “Quality internet supports learning, healthcare, business and agriculture in today’s economy.”

The Missouri Legislature still needs to approve the spending. Lawmakers return to work at the Capitol in January.

The governor’s office says more than 147,000 Missouri households don’t have access to high-speed internet. That equals about 400,000 residents, and most live in rural areas.

The U.S Department of Economic Development also submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program requesting an additional $56 million for broadband deployment. If approved by NTIA, this funding could support up to 19 projects, connecting more than 17,000 households, businesses and other institutions.

“In combination, these investments would be a game changer for broadband in Missouri,” said Tim Arbeiter, director of Broadband Development for the Department of Economic Development. “This unprecedented level of funding could unlock incredible new potential as we shape the strategy for broadband development in our state.”

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