Connecting South Dakota

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Connecting South Dakota

As we look toward the future, we must do everything we can to preserve the South Dakotan way of life that we hold so dear – and ensure that no one in the state needs to choose between the modern economy on the one hand and life in their hometown on the other. This starts with providing high-speed broadband access to every household in the state.

Governor Noem has made it a top priority to close South Dakota’s broadband gap once and for all. Even before COVID-19 made remote work and online school a reality for millions, Governor Noem invested in full connectivity from border to border – and made sure we did it in a responsible manner without wasting taxpayer dollars.

The ConnectSD program utilizes public-private partnerships to bring high-speed internet to rural South Dakota. The state provides dollars to cover the upfront costs of building out broadband infrastructure, while private industry – primarily rural, member-based coops – take the lead on maintaining this infrastructure and delivering quality service to consumers.

Over the last 3 years, Governor Noem has worked with the legislature to prioritize broadband funding:

  • In 2019, Governor Noem launched the ConnectSD program through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and secured $5M in state general funds from the legislature to begin building out broadband infrastructure. 
  • In 2020, Governor Noem worked with the legislature to appropriate another $5M in state general funds to the ConnectSD program. She also allocated $6.6M in federal CARES Act funds for broadband. 
  • By 2021, almost every legislator in the state agreed that it was time to fully fund the ConnectSD program and ensure that every South Dakotan could access high-speed broadband. The legislature agreed to appropriate $75M in state general funds to the program, and Governor Noem paired that with another $30.5M in federal CARES Act funds.

At the time, industry estimates showed that this would be enough to fully connect the state. However, as the Biden administration’s actions drove up inflation across the country, costs have skyrocketed. To cover these cost increases, the legislature agreed to appropriate $50M in federal funds to broadband during the 2022 legislative session.

In all, the state has spent $12.2M so far on connecting the state, along with $63.4M in federal funds and $81.8M in private investment, with millions more in state funds and federal funds allocated for future projects. Since Governor Noem took office in 2019, over 21,000 households and businesses have received internet through the ConnectSD program. Even more projects are currently underway. Universal broadband access will improve the lives of South Dakotans now and preserve our way of life for the future.

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