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When Governor Kristi Noem laid out her vision for South Dakota in her first address to the state legislature in 2019, she issued a challenge to bring sustainable, high-speed internet to every home and business in South Dakota. The legislature responded, approving a $5 million allocation that launched the ConnectSD broadband program, a public-private partnership to extend high-speed broadband to all South Dakotans.
In the months that followed, the importance of high-speed broadband access became apparent as an unprecedented global pandemic ushered in a seismic shift in how students attended class and many people worked. High-speed broadband proved itself to be critical infrastructure and our legislators have continued to invest greater amounts into broadband development.
Most recently in May 2023, over $32 million in grants were awarded for 13 projects from nine applicants. These projects will leverage private matching dollars for a total investment of over $47 million in broadband infrastructure statewide, connecting 3,137 households, farms, and businesses. These awards will cover the vast prairie area of Stanley County, part of the state’s southeast corner, and provide more coverage in the Black Hills region.
The ConnectSD program has leveraged $58 million of state general funds along with $89 million of federal funds and $122 million of private investment from the broadband providers. These investments total over $269.8 million in broadband expansion in the state since Governor Noem took office in 2019. ConnectSD has awarded 104 grant awards or projects and has connected or is in the process of connecting almost 31,000 locations that either did not have internet or were underserved before starting this program.
“ConnectSD is investing in South Dakota’s future by bringing high-speed broadband access to every South Dakota family,” said Governor Noem. “We are committed to connecting every corner of South Dakota with high-speed internet access, and this investment will allow us to overcome challenges that stand in the way of that mission.”
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