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Tim Arbeiter leaving Office of Broadband Development

After three years at the forefront of Missouri’s battle against the digital divide, Office of Broadband Development Director Tim Arbeiter will be leaving his position for the private sector in January. 

Arbeiter has steered the office since its establishment in 2018, leading the state through its first broadband grants and an influx of federal funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He worked with state, federal, and local leaders to collect data, increase awareness, and accelerate broadband efforts across the state. 

Arbeiter said he would continue working in the broadband industry and his next steps will be announced in the coming weeks. 

“I love what I’ve gotten to do for the state and getting to take the lead of the broadband charge with the governor, but I was offered an opportunity that was exciting and new, and I’m looking forward to the change in January,” Arbeiter told The Missouri Times. “My time here has been jam-packed with activity and excitement, from the state’s broadband grant program to utilizing the CARES Act funds alongside the governor, and it’s been a real highlight to see the engagement between so many statewide groups and providers on these issues.”

“It’s an exciting time in the broadband space, and I’m looking forward to seeing how all these funds and grants get us closer to bridging the digital divide in Missouri,” he continued. 

The Office of Broadband Development is housed under the Department of Economic Development (DED). 

“Tim has accomplished much during his time as DED’s inaugural broadband leader,” DED Acting Director Maggie Kost said in an email to stakeholders Wednesday. “Tim has helped bring broadband to many thousands of Missouri households. And he’s done it the right way — by constantly working to engage partners and bring people together.”

Before joining DED, Arbeiter served as president of the Lee’s Summit Chamber, vice president of Community Development for the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, and executive director of Old Town Cape. He holds the Institute of Organization Management (IOM) designation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which he attained in 2010. 

The department is launching a search for the office’s next director, a role Kost said was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of Missourians benefit from high-speed internet.”

Arbeiter was before the Missouri Legislature multiple times over the past year as federal broadband funding flooded the state, appearing twice before the House Special Committee on Broadband Development. 

“Tim Arbeiter has been a consummate professional and outstanding public servant,” Rep. Louis Riggs, who chairs the committee, told The Missouri Times. “He has been a joy to work with — always knowledgeable, always available, always willing to listen, and always pleasant whatever the situation. He will be sorely missed. I wish him all the best in the next chapter in his life.”

Missouri announced a $400 million investment, said to be the largest in the state’s history, from the American Families Plan Act over the summer, with a myriad of state and federal investments in the works as well. 

Arbeiter previously told The Missouri Times his division engaged stakeholders from across the state to identify the biggest obstacles faced by Missourians in terms of broadband access and the best avenues for investments as each allotment was announced. 

Missouri ranks No. 34 in broadband access, according to Arbeiter. There are more than 147,000 unserved or underserved households and more than 392,000 individuals without reliable internet access. The state has made drastic improvements despite the high numbers, increasing its ranking by 10 points since 2018.

Featured image: Former Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon, left; Office of Broadband Development Director Tim Arbeiter, center; Gov. Mike Parson, right.