(The Center Square) – The state of Missouri is awarding $12 million in grants for cellphone tower expansion as well as greater 9-1-1 connectivity.
The grants, which will go to 29 different projects, are funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act, the Missouri Department of Economic Development said.
Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement that public safety and economic growth are a top priority, and investments such as this will “build a stronger future” for the state.
“These grant awards will make a positive difference by expanding cellular service for thousands of Missourians,” he added.
Recipients include New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, USOC of Greater Missouri, LLC, and Branch Towners VI LLC, with 14, 11, and four projects, respectively.
The projects receiving grants serve more than 17,000 locations that are designated as high-need locations and lacking what the government considers quality cellular service.
Meanwhile, a second round of funding began on Oct. 20. Nearly $8 million has been made available for the construction of new towers. Providers and tower owners must apply by Nov. 10. Awards are scheduled to be announced on Dec. 29.
“While progress has been made, reliable connectivity remains a major challenge for many hard-to-serve areas across our state,” said BJ Tanksley, director of the Office of Broadband Development. “We encourage involvement in the program’s second round as we continue toward our goal of connecting all Missourians.”
DED Acting Director Michelle Hataway said everyone benefits from better cellular service, from businesses to communities and families.
“To achieve a safer, more prosperous future for our state, wireless infrastructure must be improved,” said Hataway.