State of Missouri awards $12 million in ARPA funding to expand cellular service statewide

Mo Dept of Economic Development ARPA Section
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The Department of Economic Development announced that it has awarded a total of $12 million through the Cell Towers Grant Program for 29 projects. Grant awards will be used to construct new towers, providing quality cellular service and enhanced 911 connectivity in high-cost areas. Funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the program aims to invest in the expansion of cellular service statewide.

“Expanding cellular connectivity statewide remains a top priority for both public safety and economic growth,” said Governor Mike Parson. “We’re proud to continue making historic investments in critical infrastructure like cellular service to build a stronger future for Missouri. These grant awards will positively impact thousands of Missourians by expanding cellular service.”

Projects funded through the Cell Towers Grant Program are anticipated to serve more than 17,000 high-need locations previously lacking quality cellular service. Administered by DED’s Office of Broadband Development, the program, initiated in May 2023, awarded competitive grants to applicants contributing private funding in addition to grant funds. Each project will lead to the construction of one cellular tower, totaling 29 new towers built statewide.

“Quality cellular connections are essential for businesses, communities, and families,” said Michelle Hataway, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Development. “To achieve a safer, more prosperous future for our state, we must improve wireless infrastructure. We are proud to collaborate with recipients of this grant program to help Missourians thrive by expanding connectivity statewide.”

DED will commence a second round of funding through the Cell Towers Grant Program on October 20, 2023. Of the original $20 million allocated by Governor Parson and the General Assembly, $7.9 million will be accessible for eligible providers and tower owners to construct new towers.

“We are eager to address the needs for cellular service through the Cell Towers Grant Program,” said BJ Tanksley, Director of the Office of Broadband Development. “While we have made progress, reliable connectivity is still a significant hurdle for many hard-to-serve areas across our state. We encourage participation in the program’s second round as we persist in our goal of connecting all Missourians.”

Since its inception, the Cell Towers Grant Program has undergone modifications to better clarify the application and challenge processes. Future funding rounds will prioritize recipients based on the proposed projects’ proximity to existing towers that deliver a minimum-quality signal. The program’s application portal will close on November 10, 2023, with projected award announcements on December 29, 2023. Details are available in the program guidelines.

Details on the recipients of the Cell Towers Grant Program are available here.

To learn more about DED’s ARPA-funded grant programs, visit this link.

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