FRANKFORT, Ky. – On February 2, 2023, Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state will host a 14-stop listening tour beginning Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Hopkinsville as part of the ongoing Better Internet Initiative.
“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 six-week listening tour hosted by the state’s Office of Broadband Development, in collaboration with the Education and Labor Cabinet, 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.
“Ensuring more Kentuckians have access to reliable high-speed internet will significantly improve employment and educational opportunities, particularly in the commonwealth’s more rural or remote areas,” said Education and Labor Cabinet Secretary Jamie Link. “Hearing directly from citizens and businesses from across the state on this listening tour will be immensely helpful as we strive to finally bridge the digital divide that has existed in Kentucky for far too long.”
Visit broadband.ky.gov to learn more and register to attend any of the listening tour stops.
In addition to developing the state broadband plan, the Office of Broadband Development is administering a series of grants funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 2021. Learn more at broadband.ky.gov.
Gov. 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.