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Iowa adds $200M from federal COVID-19 relief funds to broadband expansion effort

Iowa has added $200 million to its effort to expand high-speed internet to underserved areas in the state.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday that the new funding will come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and it brings to almost $300 million the amount the state has made available to expand broadband across Iowa.

Last month, Reynolds announced nearly $100 million in grants under the state’s Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grants Program, created this year by the Legislature to expand broadband statewide.

Reynolds said the program received 178 applications requesting a total of $300 million, so the state is using $200 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to build upon the earlier investment. Under the program, internet providers can apply for up to 60% of their broadband project costs in eligible areas of the state.

In a release announcing the latest funding, Reynolds said providing high-speed internet has never been more important for the future of Iowa. “I continue to hear from Iowans who still lack access to the broadband speeds necessary to start a business, telework, or connect with a healthcare provider,” said Reynolds, who made expanding broadband a priority in her Condition of the State speech in January.

Applications for the funding may be submitted beginning Oct. 25 through Nov. 22.

Photo by Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register.

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