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Connecting Mississippi with Fiber and Workers

Building a 21st century telecommunications network in Mississippi is no small task. With nearly 1.4 million identified broadband service locations, there are over half a million unserved and underserved places that need fiber connectivity.   

“We’re making great progress,” said Sally Doty, Director, Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi. “Our office currently is administering a Broadband Infrastructure Program grant, which is $32.6 million. We are on the verge of Capital Project funding with $162 million. We’ve been involved in a mapping challenge among our providers for the past month or so, I think we got 200,000 challenges in. We feel that the mapping challenge for CPF was our practice run for the [BEAD] challenge that we’ll have to run in the fall, so we feel good about where we are in Mississippi.” 

Doty’s state agency works closely with the newly formed Mississippi Broadband Association (MSBA), a non-profit organization working to ensure fast, reliable, affordable, and sustainable accessibility to broadband services for the unserved and underserved citizens of Mississippi.  

“We’re here to foster an environment of trust and partnerships among our largest and small ISPs, and with contractors, professional services suppliers, vendors, states, and local governments,” said Quinn Jordan, Executive Director, MSBA. ‘Sally and I have a tremendous relationship. Even though we’re autonomous, we make sure that we’re pulling the wagon in the same direction.”  

MSBA has made workforce and career tech training its second priority after broadband. “We want to work alongside Sally’s office to ensure we have a workforce that is ready to management and install these networks moving forward over the next three to five years.”  

Broadband today plays a significant role in Mississippi’s economy, with digital online sales in Q2 of 2022 making up 14.6% of spending.  

“We have a lot of small businesses in Mississippi that are impacted by online sales,” said Jordan “We want to make sure that we’re reaching those unique individuals, and their products and services, and be able to market and sell to those individuals online. You have the indirect side of the economic impact of broadband allowing for the retention and growth of our workforce. For so long, Mississippi has been a feeder for other markets because of salaries, where people can go and make more money in other states. We’ve been losing a lot of our talent. With the indirect economic impact of broadband services, we’re going to be able to retain those individuals.” 

For more details on how Mississippi is leveraging broadband for economic benefit, listen to the latest Fiber for Breakfast podcast.