DRA Invests $1 Million in Rural Missouri to Help Deliver Broadband Service to 8 Bootheel Counties

December 19, 2018

SIKESTON, MO. – The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is investing $1 million to help build a world-class broadband network in eight counties in the Missouri Bootheel. The underserved communities will receive an additional $15.5 million investment from two electric cooperatives that have pledged to deliver fiber-to-the-home broadband that will enhance economic development opportunities for rural communities.

“Access to quality broadband opens new economic, education and health opportunities for thousands of residents, businesses and farmers in Southeast Missouri, the most underserved broadband area in the state,” said DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell. “DRA is proud to deliver these vital infrastructure improvements that will enhance the livelihood of those throughout the Missouri Bootheel.”

“Having access to broadband is as important as the telephone was to jobs and education 70 years ago,” said U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO. “These DRA investments recognize that the definition of community infrastructure has to include broadband access for everything from homes and businesses to hospitals, schools, and libraries. I’m committed to finding new avenues, like this one, to end the digital divide that has left nearly half of Missourians in rural areas without access to broadband. And, I will continue supporting DRA’s mission to strengthen local economies and improve the quality of life for Southeast Missouri families.”

“DRA’s investment in Missouri will make a lasting contribution that will improve the lives of rural residents and businesses in these eight counties,” said Gov. Mike Parson, R-MO. “Reliable and affordable broadband service will bolster this region by enhancing economic development and job opportunities for rural communities and Bootheel residents.”

“Congress created the Delta Regional Authority to enhance the quality of life for residents in the Mississippi Delta Region, and investing in rural broadband service will do exactly that. Bringing broadband to rural areas is critical to improve our education, business opportunities, and quality of life. That why I brought FCC Chairman Pai to southern Missouri and have worked with him to deliver millions in Missouri to expand access,” said U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-MO. “This project will allow thousands of rural families to receive high speed internet for the first time, allow farmers to be connected to the global markets, and encourage business investments in the Bootheel as we bring our infrastructure into the 21st Century.”

Background:

Southeast Missouri (SEMO) Electric Cooperative of Sikeston will build a fiber network to deliver broadband service to Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, New Madrid, Scott and Stoddard counties, reaching 3,374 residents and multiple employers in the service territory. DRA is contributing $250,000 to the effort, with another $8.5 million being invested by other partners. SEMO Electric has committed $40 million to the project.

Pemiscot-Dunklin Electric Cooperative in Bragg City will extend broadband to residents and businesses in Dunklin, Pemiscot and parts of New Madrid counties. The project is projected to reach 7,517 homes while also providing broadband to businesses and farms in the area. DRA is contributing $750,000 to the buildout and another $6.7 million is being contributed by other partners. The coop projects it will cost $30 million to complete the initiative.

Through this expansion, many Bootheel communities will receive broadband service for the first time and will gain new opportunities to expand business growth, increase economic competitiveness and help retain residents and jobs.

About the Delta Regional Authority

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, the DRA’s SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged more than $3.7 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and infrastructure development projects. These investments have helped create or retain more than 37,000 jobs, trained more than 3,700 workers for 21st Century jobs and provided water and sewer service to more than 66,000 residents since DRA was established. Learn more at dra.gov.

Contact: Andrew Moreau
202-744-3558
amoreau@dra.gov