Aug. 24—PIERRE, S.D. — At this year's South Dakota Telecommunications Association Conference, Gov. Kristi Noem announced that ConnectSD, South Dakota's rural broadband program, would receive its final allotment of $27 million.
This marks the fifth year ConnectSD has distributed grants to telecommunications companies to expand broadband connectivity in the state's most remote communities.
"No one should have to choose between the modern economy and a life in their hometown," Noem said in a press release on Tuesday, Aug. 22. "It's time to finish the job."
The South Dakota Legislature approved a $5 million allocation of state funds to launch the program in 2019. Now, broadband investment through the ConnectSD program is at $269.8 million. That is 104 approved broadband infrastructure projects since 2019.
Every year since 2019, the Governor's Office of Economic Development has doled out grants for projects. Last year, nine companies received a total of $32,615,777 to use on
13 rural broadband development projects.
The mean of last year's grant amounts was $2,500,905.92. The most expensive projects were upward of $5 million, with the least expensive project totaling $34,320.
GOED Commissioner Chris Schilken said the program is expanding opportunities in education, entertainment and commerce across the state.
"South Dakotans should never be left behind because of the small-town way of life they've chosen to build for themselves and for their families," Schilken said.
Over $269.5 million has been invested into broadband expansion in South Dakota, 21.5% of which comes from state funds allocated from the state Legislature.
President Joe Biden's 2021 infrastructure bill allocated millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars to every state (and at least $25 million for US territories) to make broadband infrastructure improvements.
South Dakota received $207,227,523.92 from the bill.
ConnectSD has used $89,556,707 in federal funds to start broadband infrastructure projects, about 33% of the total investment. A majority of the investment, $122,304,542, comes from private funds.
ConnectSD will make the next round of grants available in the coming months.