A $5.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce will provide the state of Iowa funds to expand high-speed internet access.
The investment is made possible by President Joe Biden’s federal infrastructure bill signed into law last November after passing the Senate in August.
The bipartisan infrastructure law, also known as Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, allots $65 billion for broadband services across the country. This latest announcement includes a $5 million Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) planning grant to the state of Iowa, as well as a Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program grant of over $400,000 to the Meskwaki Tribe in Iowa.
Iowa’s BEAD allocation will let the state evaluate barriers to accessing high-speed internet, increase capacity and staffing of broadband offices and educate communities.
“Broadband helps create equal learning opportunities for kids in school, expands telehealth options, and helps Iowa’s small businesses compete,” said Rep. Cindy Axne in a release. “That’s why I’m so glad to see nearly $6 million…will go toward planning and infrastructure to lay the groundwork so Iowa can expand its high-speed internet access for all.”
Additionally, Iowa will receive a grant of over $700,000 from the Digital Equity Program to develop plans for broadband expansion, according to a press release. This will go toward hiring a full-time staff member, creation of an Iowa Digital Equity plan and engagement with local leaders and institutions.
“Iowans in every corner of the state need reliable internet access in today’s economy for work, school and telehealth appointments,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of 19 Senate republicans to vote in favor of the bill, in a statement. While we’ve made great progress in expanding internet access in rural Iowa, there’s more work to do.”
Last month, Iowa City received a $300,000 grant for highway and bridge improvements through the Bridge Investment Program, a subset of the infrastructure bill.
With $66 billion set aside for Amtrak to expand rail service across the country, Iowa City purchased three properties that could serve as a future site for passengers travelling from the Corridor to Chicago.
Iowa will also receive $51.4 million over five years from the federal goverment to construct new electric vehicle charging stations. More than $1.5 billion will be distributed throughout the country as part of the National Vehicle Infrastructure Formula (NEVI) plan.