Sen. Dan Hegeman’s Capitol Report for the Week of July 24, 2017

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Bringing Technology to Rural Missouri

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rural counties reported annual population losses of approximately 43,000 per year between 2011 and 2015. Although the losses dropped to 21,000 between 2015 and 2016, the numbers still reflect six straight years of population decline — a statistic driven home by a recent online search I did of “rural America,” which yielded headlines such as “Rural America is Aging and Shrinking” and “The Graying of Rural America.”

Interestingly, though unsurprisingly, both articles specifically mention a lack of reliable internet access as one reason rural areas have struggled to attract new business opportunities and the critical jobs they bring. This isn’t a problem that’s isolated to one or two states. Rather, it’s a trend we’re seeing in rural counties in nearly every state in the country. In fact, there are still many places right here in Missouri that don’t have high-speed internet access, with many of them located in the 12th Senate District.

In a 2016 “Broadband Progress Report,” the FCC noted that “…34 million Americans still lack access to broadband meeting today’s benchmark speeds of 25 Mpbs.” The report went on to say how “a persistent digital divide” has left 39 percent of rural Americans without access to broadband speeds of 25 megabits per second; in comparison, only 4 percent of urban Americans lack access.

Earlier this year, the governor announced a new initiative to bring broadband access to Missouri’s rural school districts. While this is a great first step, in today’s increasingly tech-driven and interconnected world, we must go even further in our efforts to bring quality broadband access to Missouri’s rural areas. My hope is that by doing so, we’ll build stronger communities that offer our young people real opportunities for success and encourage them to make their lives in rural Missouri.

As always, please feel free to call, email, or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.