Florida: Governor Ron DeSantis Delivers $223 Million to Expand Rural Broadband Access
The Floridant/10259796

BOWLING GREEN, Fla. ~ Bowling Green, Florida - In a move to expand broadband internet access to underserved communities, Governor Ron DeSantis has announced a total of $223 million in funding. This includes $135 million from the state's Broadband Opportunity Program and $86 million from the federal Multipurpose Community Facilities Program.

The Broadband Opportunity Program will support 54 projects in 33 counties, providing internet access to over 27,000 unserved locations including residential, educational, agricultural, business and community areas. The Multipurpose Community Facilities Program will support 29 projects in 18 counties, including health clinics, schools and workforce development programs.

This announcement comes as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently implemented new rules tying funding for broadband expansion to diversity and inclusion stipulations. These rules aim to prevent discrimination based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin. However, Governor DeSantis has made it clear that Florida will not enforce these requirements as they could potentially drive investment away from small and rural communities that are already underserved.

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Governor DeSantis stated that connecting these communities to broadband internet will have a positive impact on their economic growth by providing access to job opportunities and educational resources. He also emphasized the importance of making investments in broadband without any discriminatory strings attached.

Florida Commerce Secretary J. Alex Kelly praised Governor DeSantis' leadership and stated that these awards will help maintain the state's economic momentum. He also highlighted how connecting Floridians with community hubs will provide them with increased access to job opportunities and telemedicine resources through reliable broadband internet.

Representative Kaylee Tuck expressed her gratitude towards Governor DeSantis for investing in their community. She emphasized the need for reliable broadband access in rural areas like Hardee County and stated that this investment will greatly benefit their area.

These recent awards build upon Governor DeSantis' previous announcement of over $226 million awarded for projects in 53 counties, connecting over 250,000 homes and businesses through the Broadband Opportunity Program. Additionally, over $247 million was awarded through the Broadband Infrastructure Program, connecting over 59,000 unserved and underserved locations.

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The Multipurpose Community Facilities Program, which is federally funded, aims to support the construction and rehabilitation of community facilities that provide important resources such as workforce development, education and healthcare to small and rural communities. This includes projects such as community centers, health clinics, schools and workforce development programs in 18 counties.

Administered by Florida Commerce, the Broadband Opportunity Program funds the installation and deployment of broadband internet infrastructure in unserved areas of the state. This provides valuable access to telehealth services, economic opportunities, education and workforce development initiatives for all Floridians.

For a full list of projects awarded through the Multipurpose Community Facilities Projects Program and the Broadband Opportunity Program, visit Florida Commerce's website. For more information on Florida's broadband initiatives, visit the Office of Broadband's webpage.

Filed Under: Government, State

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