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Missouri’s broadband expansion grant program will award $5 million to help bring high-speed internet to more people in the state.

Gov. Mike Parson and two state executive departments announced the launch of the program Tuesday.

“It’s a huge problem that nearly 20 percent of Missourians lack access to high-speed internet,” Parson said in a news release from the Department of Economic Development, which also made the announcement with the Department of Agriculture.

Parson said working to solve the lack of high speed internet access for all would “help with other problems, like retaining good talent or offering better health care and education for our communities. Broadband is exactly the kind of infrastructure that Missouri needs to grow and thrive in the future.”

The broadband expansion program was created by the Missouri General Assembly in 2018 and funded during this year’s legislative session.

The program matches up to 50 percent of the construction costs of broadband expansion projects, including for facilities, engineering and construction plans, permitting, installation and service validation, according to online information from the DED, information that’s also in state law.

Eligible applicants for grant assistance include corporations and nonprofit organizations registered in the state, political subdivisions and rural electric cooperatives.

Broadband expansion projects must benefit unserved or underserved areas to be eligible for grant funding.

The state considers an unserved area to not have access to wireline or fixed wireless broadband internet service with speeds of at least 10 Megabits per second download and 1 Mbps upload.

An underserved area has a minimum of 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speed but does not reach 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.

Grant-funded projects must have baseline speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload in the area to be served.

State law stipulates no grant money shall be awarded to applicants that have already been awarded certain federal broadband expansion money or federal funding that did not require any matching-fund component.

Other considerations for selection will include the applicant’s share of total project costs, economic and community benefit and adoption strategies.

Grant applications will open Dec. 4 and will close at 4 p.m. Jan. 7, 2020, according to the DED.

Applicants will be posted online by the DED on Jan. 10, and grant awards will be announced March 5.

The state law authorizing Missouri’s grant program sunsets in August 2021 and, if re-authorized then, would last for a another six years.

On the web:

More information is available at ded.mo.gov/content/missouri-broadband-grant-program.

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