The Department of Economic Development (DED) announced today that it has awarded a total of $12 million through the Cell Towers Grant Program for 29 projects. Grant awards will be used to construct new towers that provide quality cellular service and greater 911 connectivity to high-cost areas. The program, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), is focused on investing in the expansion of cellular service statewide.
“Expanding cellular connectivity statewide remains a top priority for both public safety and economic growth,” said Governor Mike Parson. “We’re proud to continue making historic investments in critical infrastructure like cellular service to build a stronger future for Missouri. These grant awards will make a positive difference by expanding cellular service for thousands of Missourians.”
Projects receiving funds through the Cell Towers Grant Program are expected to serve more than 17,000 high-need locations that previously lacked quality cellular service. The program, administered by DED’s Office of Broadband Development, was launched in May 2023 and awarded competitive grants to applicants who also contributed private funding in addition to grant funds. Each awarded project will result in the construction of one cellular tower, for a total of 29 new towers built statewide.
“Quality cellular connections are a necessity for businesses, communities, and families alike,” said Michelle Hataway, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Development. “To achieve a safer, more prosperous future for our state, wireless infrastructure must be improved. We’re proud to partner with recipients of this grant program to help Missourians prosper by expanding connectivity statewide.”
DED will open a second round of funding through the Cell Towers Grant Program beginning October 20, 2023. Of the original $20 million appropriated by Governor Parson and the General Assembly, $7.9 million will be available for eligible providers and tower owners for the construction of new towers.
“We’re excited to help meet needs for cellular service through the Cell Towers Grant Program,” said BJ Tanksley, Director of the Office of Broadband Development. “While progress has been made, reliable connectivity remains a major challenge for many hard-to-serve areas across our state. We encourage involvement in the program’s second round as we continue toward our goal of connecting all Missourians.”
Since its first round, the Cell Towers Grant Program has been modified to better clarify the application and challenge processes. Future funding rounds will award recipients based on proposed projects’ proximity to existing towers that provide a minimum quality signal. The program’s application portal will close on November 10, 2023, with awards projected to be announced on December 29, 2023. Details are available in the program guidelines.
To learn more about DED’s ARPA-funded grant programs, visit ded.mo.gov/arpa.
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 Broadband 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.