Shaheen Highlights Need to Expand Access to High-Speed Broadband for Granite Staters during Keene Roundtable Discussion

July 08, 2021

 

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Shaheen discusses the importance of increasing access to reliable, high-speed broadband internet in the Monadnock region and across New Hampshire

 

Later: Shaheen Visits the Claremont Opera House to Discuss the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program 

 

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Shaheen tours the Claremont Opera House

(Keene, NH) – This morning, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) hosted a roundtable discussion with local internet service providers, advocates and officials on the need to expand access to quality, reliable high-speed broadband internet for Granite Staters in the Monadnock Region and across the state.  The COVID-19 crisis further underscored how critical it is to address gaps in our broadband networks, as New Hampshire families relied on connectivity to learn and work from home, access essential health care, stay in touch with loved ones and much more.  

During the event, Shaheen spoke with the participants about ongoing efforts in the region and state to increase broadband connectivity, particularly in rural communities. Shaheen also highlighted the historic investments the bipartisan deal on infrastructure she is helping to negotiate would make for broadband. As a?senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has long championed federal support for investments in broadband and infrastructure and?has consistently included federal support in yearly government funding legislation. In fiscal year (FY) 2020 legislation signed into law last year,?Shaheen successfully secured funding for a new program?through the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to support projects that increase access to high-speed broadband and enhance the region’s capacity for business retention and expansion. In FY 2021, she?secured another $5 million?to fund broadband initiatives through the NBRC. 

“Access to high-speed broadband internet is an essential service that every community should have access to. Whether it’s so they can readily access health services from the safety of their home or run a small business, it’s about ensuring Granite Staters can stay connected and build a stronger future for them and their families,” said Shaheen. “Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen the serious impact of a lack of broadband services, particularly in rural communities throughout the state. As we continue negotiations in Congress on a historic infrastructure deal that would ramp up our ability to build out our broadband network, I want to hear directly from Granite Staters most affected to ensure their voices are heard and concerns are addressed. This was a fruitful discussion and I look forward to sharing this feedback with fellow lawmakers as negotiations continue.” 

Later, Shaheen visited the Claremont Opera House to discuss the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program (SVOG). Shaheen worked to establish this program in the emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that was passed by Congress and was signed into law last December to provide grants for shuttered live venues, independent movie theaters and other Granite State cultural institutions. During the event, Shaheen met with Opera House staff and local economic development officials to discuss what they have seen on the ground during the pandemic and their experience in accessing the SVOG program. Last month, Shaheen joined a bipartisan push to Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman urging her to disburse SVOG funding to struggling live entertainment venues as soon as possible. 

“The Claremont Opera House is a vibrant and beloved center of culture, entertainment and community for Claremont residents and the Upper Valley community. Like many of New Hampshire’s independent entertainment venues, the Opera House faced significant challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why I worked to create federal relief programs like the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program to help these cultural institutions stay afloat,” said Shaheen. “I enjoyed meeting with Opera House staff this afternoon to discuss the challenges they faced during the pandemic, as well as their experiences in accessing urgently needed relief through SVOG and other federal programs. I’ll keep working to ensure the Biden administration addresses the challenges venues like the Claremont Opera House have faced in accessing relief to ensure they receive the support they need to fully recover from the pandemic.”