High-speed internet isn’t just a “nice” thing for employers to operate, it’s a necessity. But for too long, lack of access in rural areas has been a barrier to success. The PA Chamber has spoken about this divide and the need to bridge it in testimony to lawmakers, panel discussions and other forums. We have also prioritized broadband development as a key driver to Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness, and as a component of our state’s overall infrastructure strategy.
Fortunately, those efforts recently got a boost with more than $1 billion in federal dollars from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program included in the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The BEAD program’s mission is to expand high-speed internet access across the United States by funding development plans to invest in infrastructure. Pennsylvania’s $1.16 billion allocation will be deployed over the next five years across the state’s communities, as approved by the state’s Broadband Development Authority. “Once that is approved, then the federal dollars start flowing to the communities,” Governor Shapiro said prior to the plan’s approval “That means we can then immediately hire crews to start laying cables, putting up towers, and making Pennsylvania’s new broadband infrastructure a reality.”
The benefits go beyond the jobs immediately created by the broadband projects. Broadband access allows Pennsylvania communities and employers to maximize our potential and innovate in areas like education, health care, and commerce, as we work to develop a 21st century infrastructure framework that entices businesses and families to work, live, and stay here in the Commonwealth.
The PA Chamber has played an active role promoting broadband expansion and shaping policies that facilitate economic prosperity. As we work with policymakers at the state and federal level to leverage broadband funding and foster collaboration among stakeholders, we’re leading in bridging the digital divide and empowering every Pennsylvanian with reliable, high-speed internet connectivity.
And as we strive to be at the forefront of the digital revolution, our advocacy for broadband internet expansion continues to catalyze economic growth, innovation, and opportunity across the Commonwealth.