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Innovative Models for Deploying Affordable Broadband in Rural Communities

June 9, 2021 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Thirty-nine percent of rural Americans lack affordable, high-speed broadband, making the digital divide one of the largest demographic gaps in the country. Connectivity is necessary in today’s digital world. Economic opportunity, educational advancement, health, and safety are all tied to availability of high-speed internet access. Just as electricity transformed rural America in the 20th century, high-speed broadband is poised to deliver similar economic transformation in the 21st century economy.

What will it take to bring broadband to all members of your community that is both affordable and high-speed? While there is a promise of significant federal funding, rural communities will need to proactively build a plan that represents the best interests of their communities and position themselves to become attractive for funders and internet service providers.

Please join us on June 9th to hear from Marc McCarty, lead of the Broadband Initiative Steering Committee for the University of Missouri System that has developed a playbook and detailed implementation guide for rural communities looking to bring affordable, high-speed broadband to their community. The Committee’s Broadband Resource Rail is a coordinated effort to encourage the build of reliable, high-speed internet infrastructure and use of broadband-based applications to improve lives around three challenges of economic opportunity, educational access, and health and well-being. Their Digitally Connected Community Guide, an online course and resource library available through MU Extension, empowers rural communities through a proven strategy and provides the resources needed to move a community towards digital connectivity.

Next, Heather Hampton-Knodle and Valerie Belusko, both key leaders from Montgomery County, Illinois, will share their progress on their community-centric action plan for broadband in partnership with Wisper Internet, an ISP, headquartered in Southern Illinois. Wisper is the second-largest winner in the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) and is required to use the $220.3 million award to expand internet service in FCC designated areas – most of which are in rural Missouri. Joining us from Wisper will be Shannon Shores, Interim COO and Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

We hope you will join us to learn how digital connectivity infrastructure projects are being leveraged to improve the health and economic vitality of our rural communities from our local leaders making this change happen.

Featured Speakers:

Marc McCarty, Adjunct Professor & Teaching Fellow, UMKC School of Law and Broadband Initiative Steering Committee, University of Missouri System.
Heather Hampton Knodle, former Chairman of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation.
Valerie Belusko, Community & Economic Development Program Coordinator with the University of Illinois Extension office who works closely with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation.
Shannon Shores, Interim COO and Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Wisper Internet.

Moderated by Vijay Chauhan, GlobalSTL Lead, BioSTL



Have an event you would like added to the Missouri Broadband Resource Rail calendar? Email details to info@mobroadband.org and if it is a good fit, we will add it. Looking for business startup and growth events? Check out the MOSourceLink entrepreneur calendar.

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