DES MOINES – Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill – which Kim Reynolds opposed – is sending millions in federal dollars to rural Iowa communities for desperately needed broadband projects.
Governor Kim Reynolds and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) announced the latest recipients of the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grants Program – funded by President Joe Biden’s and Democrats’ infrastructure bill that was signed into law last year. Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne voted in favor of the bill, as did GOP Charles Grassley. All the other Iowa delegation – all from the GOP – voted against the bill.
Federal funding of more than $210 million for new broadband infrastructure has been awarded to 160 applicants as part of the latest investment in expanding broadband across the state, announced in October 2021. Award announcements can be found online here.
(Project of note: Clear Lake Independent Telephone Company – Rural Mason City – $2,216,534.95)
“Our commitment to high-speed, reliable broadband for all Iowans continues to make great progress,” said Kim Reynolds in an attempt to take credit for the funding. She made disparaging remarks against the federal bill last year, linking it to inflation, even as she accepts the dollars and spreads it out across the state, now. “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.”
Projects awarded under this grant opportunity will bring more than $526 million of new broadband infrastructure investment to Iowa, serving over 39,000 homes, schools, and businesses. To date, the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program has awarded grant funding that will result in over $880 million in new broadband investment, reaching approximately 115,000 homes, schools, and businesses upon the completion of grant-funded projects.
The OCIO will expedite an additional federally-funded grant opportunity in the first half of 2022 to continue expanding access to broadband in unserved and rural areas across Iowa which have not been built out in the previous grant opportunities.