Office of Broadband Development submits Digital Opportunity Plan for the state’s Digital Equity Planning Grant Program

The Department of Economic Development’s (DED) Office of Broadband Development (OBD) announced today that it has submitted its Digital Opportunity Plan as part of its implementation of the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Digital Equity Act.

“The Office of Broadband Development is removing barriers to participation in today’s economy, including the lack of connections and tools needed to use them,” said Michelle Hataway, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Development. “The Digital Opportunity Plan is an exciting milestone in our work to help Missourians prosper by expanding internet access for everyone.”

The submission of the Digital Opportunity Plan is the first needed step in making use of Missouri’s share of the $1.44 billion provided through the Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program. Funds provided by the program will be used to ensure Missourians have affordable internet access, quality devices, and the skills necessary for full participation in a digital economy. OBD will submit its complete application in summer 2024, with programming expected to launch in the fall.

“The submission of the Digital Opportunity Plan is the culmination of a long process to collect valuable public and stakeholder feedback,” said BJ Tanksley, Director of the Office of Broadband Development. “This plan demonstrates our continued commitment to ensuring every citizen has internet access as well as the knowledge and technology to fully engage. The strategies outlined in the plan will guide our efforts to expand digital opportunities as we continue toward our goal of connecting all Missourians.”

The planning process for the Digital Opportunity Plan included a focus group study and 30-day comment period in addition to outreach conducted during 2022 and 2023. Through the Connecting All Missourians Tour, OBD visited every region of the state, holding 43 regional meetings and two stakeholder summits that totaled more than 1,200 attendees. OBD also hosted monthly calls to share updates. In addition to substantial stakeholder feedback, OBD partnered with the University of Missouri for the 2023 Missouri Internet Survey and a focus group study to gather input on the state of internet access and engagement.

About the Office of Broadband Development

The Office of Broadband Development (OBD) is focused on addressing broadband availability and non-infrastructure barriers to full participation in the digital economy in Missouri by working with providers, communities, and stakeholders to expand and accelerate broadband deployment across the state. OBD’s Connecting All Missourians initiative includes an extensive public engagement process to inform plans for programs funded by the Digital Equity Act (DEA) and the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, both part of the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act (IIJA).

To learn more about the Office of Broadband Development or its programs and initiatives, visit DED’s website.

About the Missouri Department of Economic Development

The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) works to create an environment that encourages economic growth by supporting Missouri’s businesses and diverse industries, strengthening our communities, developing a talented and skilled workforce, and maintaining a high quality of life. As one team built around the customer and driven by data, DED aspires to be the best economic development department in the Midwest. Through its various initiatives, DED is helping create opportunities for Missourians to prosper.

For the latest updates on DED’s current or future programs and initiatives, visit DED’s website.