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.
High-speed broadband is a game-changer for South Dakota. It allows our farmers and ranchers to access marketing tools, precision agriculture technologies, valuable data collecting capabilities, and a wider audience of potential consumers. It creates jobs, expands careers, and spurs economic development. It allows even our most rural residents to meet with doctors and specialists online.
Governor Noem’s ConnectSD broadband 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 funds from the legislature to begin building out broadband infrastructure.
Since then, the state has spent $12.2M so far on connecting the state. These state funds have leveraged $63.4M in federal funds and $81.8M in private investment for broadband infrastructure. Millions more in state funds and federal funds have been 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.