Gov. DeSantis touts investments in rural broadband

Collage of Internet, communications and network equipment with pictures of data transfer by optical fiber information technology and telecommunication tower with radio panel antennas and outdoor remote radio units. Concept of data and mobile information te
He announced $233M in grants and presented $4M to Hardee County.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is touting investments in rural broadband around the state.

At an event in Hardee County, the Governor announced $233 million in state awards to expand broadband access throughout the state. Most of that money, about $138 million, comes from a state-funded Broadband Opportunity Program. The remainder is supplemented with federal spending.

The funding will go toward 54 projects in 33 counties, including a $4 million award for a technology, economic development and workforce training hub project in Hardee County.

“One of the key components of infrastructure has been what we’ve done to expand broadband access, particularly in Florida’s rural communities,” DeSantis said.

But he also noted that many urban counties still have underdeveloped areas in need of internet service.

“There’s really significant need for rural broadband in some of our most populated counties because you’ll have some that may have a pretty big land mass and people focus on the city and all that, but then you have areas that are more remote and they haven’t had access,” DeSantis said.

FloridaCommerce Secretary Alex Kelly said the broadband investment serves an important role in expanding economic development opportunities throughout Florida. But he said it’s also something that will improve the quality of life for residents immediately.

“Today’s awards will take us almost up to 40,000 residents, homes, businesses, schools around the state, and that really means something at a real human personal level,” Kelly said.

It also shows the evolution, particularly since the pandemic, in the importance of internet access for commerce in rural regions, said Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Lake Placid Republican.

“In a post-COVID environment, you may have professionals who telecommute to a job in New York, and you may have three, four or five different people who are all fighting for internet access in the same household,” Tuck said.

“The conversation has never been more important. The need for reliable broadband access has never been more prevalent, but the strain on rural communities like ours has never been felt more than it is today.”

Hardee County Commissioner Renee Wyatt welcomed the investment in the region.

“The award for this facility will provide an opportunity for the citizens to access telehealth,” she said. “It will provide mentors for entrepreneurs and generate small businesses as well as create needed housing. The facility itself is going to be a result of a three-story building and it’s something that we’ve all been discussing for some time now.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Hypocrit

    February 2, 2024 at 12:21 pm

    Take back that federal money. He never wants anything from the federal government. My god he just said someone may be telecommuting for a job in New York. Isn’t that tyranny?? He is sending his private Florida National Guard to fight the federal government in Texas. Send back the money DeathSantis.

    • Bill Pollard

      February 2, 2024 at 9:22 pm

      👍 Ron is a hot mess.

Comments are closed.


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