PIERRE, S.D. – Connect South Dakota, the state program designed to fund broadband projects in unserved and underserved areas across the state, recently awarded $5 million to its first grant recipients. The money was approved by legislators last March. The initial $5 million will leverage more than $11.4 million in project costs.
“Sixty-five percent of kids in elementary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist. These jobs will almost certainly require access to a high-speed internet connection,” said Noem. “Raising the next generation with access to online resources is our responsibility as parents and citizens.”
“Connect South Dakota is a step toward closing the broadband gap in South Dakota and equipping our kids for the jobs of the future. The greatest need we found in our assessment was for funding in some of the outer rings around communities that don’t have the population density of a city or town and aren’t rural enough to qualify for federal rural broadband dollars. In our first round of awards, we will be able to impact more than 100 businesses and about 4,800 homes,” continued Noem.
These eight projects are “shovel ready” and will be completed by the end of 2019. “It’s imperative that we continue moving projects forward in a timely fashion. Broadband speeds are improving continuously so we need to stay ahead of the curve,” Noem added.
The following companies were awarded grants:
Serving northeastern Minnehaha and southeastern Moody counties
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority
Serving Timber Lake
Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative
Serving rural Codington County
Serving rural Clay and Union counties
Serving rural Davison County
Serving Kranzburg and rural Codington
Serving Irene Wakonda & Alsen areas
Serving rural Hughes County
“This program is about public-private partnerships and how we can work together to impact the lives of South Dakotans,” Noem concluded. “I commend all the telecommunications companies for their sizable financial commitment to improving service in their communities. Thank you to all of the companies that applied. We look forward to continuing this program in the future.”