Gov. Andy Beshear is launching a six-week 14 stop listening tour through the state aimed at guiding investments to expand high-speed internet across the state.
The tour hosted by the state’s Office of Broadband Development, in collaboration with the Education and Labor Cabinet will kick off on Valentine’s Day in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
“Access to reliable high-speed internet is critical to the state’s future economic growth and will vastly improve the daily lives of all Kentuckians,” Gov. Beshear said. “While we are making great progress in our efforts to expand access, we can’t afford to leave any person or community – urban or rural – behind. That’s why we’re asking local leaders in education, health care and agriculture, as well as community partners, business owners and residents to take part in these conversations, which will help us identify precisely where more work needs to be done.”
The listening tour aligns with planning requirements laid out in the federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program as Kentucky develops a state high-speed internet plan.
“Billions of dollars to help Kentucky build out essential high-speed internet infrastructure are on the line. Having community-level input will help ensure Kentucky’s plan expands and improves internet access where it is most critically needed,” said Office of Broadband Development Executive Director Meghan Sandfoss. “Input from this listening tour, as well the formation of an advisory group comprised of key stakeholders from across the state, will help Kentucky create an effective and informed state plan that targets areas of both the greatest need and the greatest impact.”
Representatives from Education and Labor Cabinet will be joining Office of Broadband Development on the tour to solicit input on the development of the state’s digital equity plan.
Beshear’s Better Internet Initiative is a key part of his Better Kentucky Plan, which aims to help the commonwealth lead in the post-COVID economy by applying federal dollars to build new schools, deliver clean drinking water, expand access to high-speed internet, build strong communities, improve roads and bridges and expand electric vehicle infrastructure.
Beshear is seeking a second-term in office this year.