The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) named BJ Tanksley as its new Director for the Office of Broadband Development, the state’s lead agency for expanding access to high-speed internet.
“Building upon his work at Missouri Farm Bureau, BJ brings tremendous experience and understanding of Missouri’s broadband needs,” said Governor Mike Parson. “I look forward to seeing what he and his team will accomplish as we work to increase broadband access in every corner of the state for hundreds of thousands of Missourians.”
Tanksley will lead the state’s efforts to implement Governor Parson’s plan to invest more than $400 million in broadband across the state. Plans for the funding are expected to impact hundreds of thousands of Missourians, and will be considered by the Missouri General Assembly this year.
“We’re excited to welcome BJ to the team during this pivotal moment for broadband expansion in our state,” Department of Economic Development Acting Director Maggie Kost said. “Expanding broadband is essential in order to connect thousands of Missourians to online health care, learning and business opportunities.”
Tanksley previously served as Missouri Farm Bureau’s Director of State and Local Legislative Affairs. In this role, he led the organization’s legislative activities, advocated for Missouri farmers, and encouraged broadband expansion to ensure Missourians have access to quality education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. Tanksley has also worked with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and holds a degree in political science and minor in environmental studies from Southeast Missouri State University.
“I’m honored to lead the state’s efforts in expanding access to broadband, which is a truly life changing prospect for communities all across our state,” Tanksley said. “Throughout my career, I’ve advocated on behalf of Missourians to ensure their prosperity. Broadband access is a necessity for healthcare, agriculture, education, and more, and I’m excited to begin work in this new capacity to connect citizens and improve their quality of life.”
The Office of Broadband Development was established in 2018 to strengthen partnerships between stakeholders and align efforts statewide to improve broadband access. Since then, the Office of Broadband Development has successfully administered the state’s first broadband grant program, which awarded more than $3 million in grant awards to increase Missourians’ access to high-speed internet. The office has also led efforts alongside Governor Parson throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to make emergency investments in broadband to keep citizens connected at a critical time.
For more information on the Office of Broadband Development, including the latest updates on expansion efforts and future funding opportunities, visit DED’s website.