Gov. Edwards announces multi-million dollar investment into state’s internet services
LAKE PROVIDENCE, La. (KNOE) - Gov. John Bel Edwards was joined by state lawmakers, locally elected leaders in North Louisiana and higher education commissioner Kim Hunter Reed to announce a multi-million dollar investment from the American Rescue Plan to make the internet more affordable and accessible across 50 parishes.
He made the announcement in Lake Providence on Monday.
He said this investment will impact more than 66,000 households and small businesses with a total investment of $176 million. The first phase of the grant was submitted through Louisiana’s broadband grant program called Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) and will use $130 million.
A press release from the governor’s office said the announcement highlights the important groundwork that Gov. Edwards began in 2019 when he signed an executive order creating the Broadband for Everyone Louisiana Commission with the goal of eliminating the digital divide by 2029. The plan is to help underserved areas of the state.
“We learned a great deal from the pandemic about how critical it is to have high-speed internet in Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said. “With today’s announcement, we are one step closer to reaching our goal of eliminating the digital divide in the next seven years.”
Gov. Edwards said that there will be another $43 million in funds from the ARP awarded by October and that they are expecting more funds to come from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to continue to address access, affordability and literacy.
Broadband access is important because research shows it is linked to better outcomes in education, healthcare, economic development and more. Federal funds from the ARP and the bipartisan infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide the resources to help Louisiana resolve many of the state’s broadband issues.
“The last few years have shown us how essential good, high-speed internet is for education,” said State Sen. Katrina Jackson. “Combined with the efforts to better fund all levels of education in the state, this investment will have huge impacts on our learning outcomes.”
State representative C. Travis Johnson said he is glad the governor made such an announcement in East Carroll Parish because of the area’s lack of consistent, high-speed internet connection.
“I appreciate the Governor for making this announcement in East Carroll Parish,” said Johnson. “East Carroll Parish is one of the least connected communities in the state. I believe this investment will prove to be vital to our region’s growth.”
To see the list of parishes this will impact or for more information, go to www.connect.la.gov.
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