Gov. Bryant announces broadband investment of $15 million - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gov. Bryant announces broadband investment of $15 million

Mississippi will invest $15 million from the Restore Act to help develop a broadband corridor.  (Photo Source: WLOX) Mississippi will invest $15 million from the Restore Act to help develop a broadband corridor. (Photo Source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

It's an investment in technology and economic development. Tuesday morning, Gov. Phil Bryant announced that $15 million in Restore Act money will go toward developing a broadband corridor along the Gulf Coast.

Bryant spoke at the Connect Mississippi conference in Gulfport. He told the group if we want that broadband connectivity, we have to invest in it. It won't happen by itself.

A look around the conference room before the program began found plenty of people sharing or checking on information with their smart phones and tablets.

It's easy to see the importance of connectivity.

“As I go through life with my iPhone, it seems like every few moments I'm thinking of something I need to know. Who was the heavyweight champ in 1934? I can do that. How do you build a carburetor for a 265 V8 Chevrolet? I can Google that,” Bryant told the crowd.

Bryant says Mississippi will use Restore Act money to invest in broadband.

“We will use $15 million to help incentivize a broadband connectivity, a broadband ring, a broadband corridor. You can call it Gulf Coast, whatever you want to call it,” he said.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes says the big dividend of investing in broadband is economic development.

“There's an opportunity here that hopefully we'll start the dialogue in moving towards how we connect, how we attract business and bring folks in. Those high paying, high tech jobs that we're all looking for,” said Hewes.

Gulfport developed a broadband initiative after looking at success stories in cities like Lafayette, LA, and Chattanooga, TN, which invested heavily in broadband and are now reaping the rewards.

“If you look at the other cities who have broadband, and really have fiber to home, and have very robust networks, they're experiencing economic development that the rest of us just haven't been able to capture,” said Gulfport City Council President Rusty Walker.

“If we're going to have that connectivity, then we're going to have to invest in it. It's just not going to happen by itself,” said Bryant.

The governor said in the past five years, there's been $215 billion spent by the private sector on developing broadband networks. He says it's time Mississippi attract some of that investment.

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