Communications companies from Highmore and Eagle Butte are among the first recipients of state grants to fund broadband internet projects in unserved and underserved areas across the state.
The initial $5 million in Connect South Dakota grants will leverage more than $11.4 million in project costs.
Gov. Kristi Noem says the greatest need found in the state was for funding in some of the outer rings around communities that don’t have the population density of a city or town and aren’t rural enough to qualify for federal rural broadband dollars. She says the first round of grants will be able to impact more than 100 businesses and about 4,800 residents.
Venture Communications at Highmore is getting over $2.76-million ($2,764,759) to serve rural Hughes County. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority in Eagle Butte has been awarded $474,500 to provide service for the Timber Lake area.
Noem says the Connect South Dakota program is about public-private partnerships working together to impact the lives of South Dakotans. She says 65% of kids in elementary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist and those jobs will almost certainly require access to a high-speed internet connection.