Kennedy, Shaheen introduce bipartisan bill to improve rural broadband in Louisiana
Published 10:38 am Friday, March 25, 2022
This week, U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced the bipartisan Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act to address the lack of broadband internet and other emerging information technology resources in rural areas by improving Small Business Administration (SBA) programs.
“Small businesses represent 97 percent of Louisiana employers, and they need broadband to create and sustain more jobs — especially after our state suffered through a series of natural disasters over the last year-and-a-half,” Kennedy said. “This bill would help expand access to broadband and other crucial technological resources for job creators in our state.”
“Small businesses are engines of economic growth and the heart of communities across New Hampshire. That’s why it’s been heartbreaking to see so many small business owners teeter on the edge of bankruptcy throughout the pandemic. As we begin to put the pandemic behind us and businesses resume their operations, they need tools to boost their resilience moving forward. Reliable broadband is key to their success,” Shaheen said. “I’m reintroducing this bipartisan bill to improve SBA programs that expand access to broadband services, particularly in underserved and rural areas. This would build on the historic investments I helped to secure as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law that will close the digital divide and improve the success of small businesses and families alike. I urge the Senate to act quickly on this commonsense bill to help small businesses evolve and overcome challenges exacerbated by the pandemic.”
The Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act would:
- Direct the SBA Office of Investment and Innovation to designate a senior employee to serve as the broadband and emerging information technology (BEIT) coordinator.
- Provide SBA employees with BEIT training to help small businesses use such technologies.
- Report on the SBA’s work related to broadband and other emerging information technologies.
- Require the SBA Chief Counsel for Advocacy to evaluate the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses.
- Authorize small business development centers to help businesses access and use BEIT.