Montgomery City is set to receive $1.7 million to invest in broadband infrastructure and boost job growth from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The grant will make use of funds from the Trump administration’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which allocates money to invest in economically distressed communities across the country, called “opportunity zones.” The department identified damage to the city from substantial flooding last year as a key motivator behind the grant.
“The Trump administration is committed to helping American communities impacted by natural disasters build the modern infrastructure necessary to attract new businesses,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. “This project will allow Montgomery City to create a more resilient economy through broadband, and the project’s location in an opportunity zone will draw in business growth and private investment.”
The grant, administered through the department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), is to be matched with more than $421,000 in local funds. The department estimates the program will generate more than $12 million in private investments and create 70 jobs in the community.
Gov. Mike Parson lauded the grant, saying broadband would be instrumental in bolstering the local economy and expanding businesses.
“Expanding broadband access is critical to a resilient economy, especially now with so many Missourians depending on the internet for health care, education, and work,” Parson said. “This grant to Montgomery City will not only build on Missouri’s broadband infrastructure but help generate business expansion and economic growth in the region.”
The Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, a local entity providing technical assistance and investment plans to the community, developed the roadmap for the investment. The commission is funded by the EDA to identify investment areas and boost local job creation.
The Trump administration has identified 161 opportunity zones across the country so far, according to the department. These zones are the main investment priority of funds appropriated under the act.
Broadband expansion has been a focus for Missouri this year as work and education increasingly moved to a virtual setting. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) approved more than $346 million in rural broadband investments for rural Missouri this week after auctioning jobs to local internet providers. Parson also released nearly $4 million this year as part of the state’s Emergency Broadband Investment Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.