More than $210 million has been awarded to grant applicants to further expand high-speed internet across Iowa, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.
“Our commitment to high-speed, reliable broadband for all Iowans continues to make great progress,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said in the release. “We’ve received an overwhelming number of applications and funding requests, which highlights the considerable need to expand broadband to all corners of the state. Our investments will help bridge the gap and provide thousands more Iowans the necessary connectivity needed in their homes and communities.”
According to the release, the projects that received funding represent more than $526 million in broadband investment, serving more than 39,000 homes, schools and businesses.
Tuesday’s announcement follows the awarding of $97.5 million in grants from the state’s Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grants Program in September, and the announcement in October that $200 million in American Rescue Plan Act money would be made available for broadband expansion in Iowa.
This week’s $210 million in grants is part of that investment announced in October, the governor’s office said in the release.
With the 2022 legislative session scheduled to begin Monday, broadband is expected to be among the topics lawmakers will address as they look at ways of addressing the state’s workforce issues.
Last year, Reynolds made it a priority, asking lawmakers to approve $450 million over three years to expand high-speed internet to underserved areas of the state. By the time the session ended, lawmakers had approved $100 million for the first year, short of what was sought by the governor, but it was supplemented by the federal coronavirus relief funds.