We have it pretty good in South Dakota. From beautifully laid and intricate landscapes, to revitalized hometown main streets and top-ranked higher education, there is so much that makes South Dakota special. But as the saying goes, “there is so much more.”

I’ve heard it said that 65 percent of children in elementary school today will work in jobs that don’t even exist yet. Read that again. That’s a significant percentage. These jobs will undoubtedly require access to technology, particularly the internet.

But today, widespread broadband access in South Dakota isn’t as widespread as we may think. In fact, about 88,000 South Dakotans lack high-speed internet access. These people cannot launch an online business or take advanced classes that require extensive uploading or downloading. Producers in these areas may not be able to use cutting-edge technology that requires online components.

As businesspeople, a gap in broadband internet is a failure to remain competitive. A failure to remain competitive threatens a cut in profit. A cut in profit may force a business to close. And when a business closes, jobs, sales tax income, school enrollment, and community reinvestment suffers, too. The internet – or lack thereof – connects us to more than just what we see on the screen. It connects us to our neighbors locally and our business potential globally.

During my State of the State Address in January, I tasked the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) with spearheading this broadband challenge. From research to implementation, GOED rose to the occasion, ensuring this major initiative wasn’t something we just talked about — it was something that became a reality.

I’m grateful for the partnership of the Legislature as we approved $5 million in grant money to launch our broadband development program, Connect South Dakota. And I’m proud of the private-public partnerships we forged through this process. The eight projects awarded grant money will be incredibly influential in bringing internet access to underserved parts of South Dakota.

Like Ross Petrick, Alliance Communications general manager, said: “Many students in this area [northeast Minnehaha and southeastern Moody counties] struggle to complete homework at home due to the broadband gap, and one large dairy operation is struggling with no broadband capability. A fiber-optic broadband infrastructure will help farming and dairy operations run more efficiently and provide new educational opportunities and telecommuting employment options.”

Collectively, these eight projects will connect about 4,800 unserved and underserved households and more than 100 South Dakota businesses by the end of 2019, and they’re optimistic about the results they will produce.

“With higher speeds and more broadband capacity, the residents of Kranzburg and rural Codington County will no longer have to make do with sub-standard service,” said Scott Bostrom, General Manager of RC Technologies. Mona Thompson, General Manager of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority said that “bringing fast, reliable, high-capacity broadband service to Timber Lake will greatly enhance all aspects of community life.”

This is only the beginning of our work to bring high-speed internet access to as many South Dakotans as possible. We can’t connect everyone overnight, but I’m committed to doing everything I can to connect South Dakota to a better, brighter tomorrow. We owe it to our future: our children, the next generation.

(13) comments

chromedome42

Here's a thought, how about we connect people with things that they need to live. You know, like food, housing, clothing, and other essentials and then worry about a special interest project. Who makes the money on broadband internet expansion?

Justthinking

Who can afford it? Oh, I know, She’s going to make sure we use it free. She’s going to use all the new revenue income from the small family farmers taxes on Hemp.

3prolson

I would like more options for broadband. It benefits any business/person out of range of cable in the ground. Maybe even a hemp farmer.

Justthinking

Nevadas Governor signed a bipartisan bill to 1. Fund Electric School busses including charging equipment. 2. Providing funding for aiding affordable clean energy for homeowners. But this area is anti environment, anti science, anti anything but pro big corporations.

Justthinking

In the meantime, Nevada Governor signed two overwhelmingly bipartisan bills. 1. Funding for Electric Public School Buses and charging equipment. 2. Funding for homeowners and small businesses to help them get Solar Power Electricity. Along with education for the jobs the technology will need.

Iman

If you libs who hate South Dakota so much don't like it here - move. Maybe California or New York or Venezuela.

Justthinking

It’s because we we love the state and country we are trying to save it for the children. Save it from people who don’t even know the difference between Democratic Socialism, Communism and fanatic Fascism (no matter what it’s calling itself nowadays)

Iman

We "people" do know the difference and we are trying to save the state and country we love from being totally destroy by an ideology that can not work. A small % of own a large % of wealth now. With what you and Bernie propose the all the power would be in the hand of few and no one would have and opportunity to rise. At least now there is a chance to improve oneself. Don't ruin the lives of our kids and grand-kids . . . . . please. Use your energy to better yourself instead of hating the opportunities we have.

GBR SD

Typical "If you don't like it leave." response, instead of working on differences. But like all Trump thumpers "it's my way or no way". Bigly sad.

antiteaparty

Iman, you are so severely misguided.

Justthinking

Unfortunately, like he and his ilk, his mind(?) is made up. You cannot confuse him with the facts.

Iman

You poor libs are the ones that are misguided. So sad. You want everyone to have the same things no mater if you work for them or not. Won't work, but go ahead keep pushing. As for the comment above; libs can't work on differences because they don't understand human nature, overpopulation, anger, envy, common sense, or reality. Yes: if you don't like it here move. California is doing really well I understand. I've been to many cities, state and countries over many years and see very clearly what is happening. Sad.

Justthinking

By the way. Every politician speaking on CSPAN, is biased and promoting their ( and their parties) agenda. Thus making them the most biased media to listen to.

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