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Task force seeks to expand high-speed Internet access in Missouri's rural areas

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – More than one in five Missouri residents don't have high-speed Internet access, according to a recent report by the Public Service Commission.

And when St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield are removed from the equation, over a third of the state is without access.

A task force set up by Governor Blunt to address the situation held its first meeting Tuesday in Jefferson City.

The 25-member group includes public officials and business owners. They'll explore several options, which may include tax credits to businesses and local governments.

The task force is chaired by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder.

"What will come in the next few weeks, we hope, is a collection of best practices from other states, how they've increased high-speed Internet access, so that our small towns and rural parts of Missouri can be competitive," Kinder said.

A series of meetings will be held across Missouri to get input from local officials and residents.

The task force is scheduled to deliver its recommendations to the governor February 1st.

"High-speed Internet access in rural areas and small towns is a key to economic development in the 21st century...the importance of it can hardly be overestimated," Kinder said.

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