Scofield tapped to lead Alabama Digital Expansion Authority
The Alabama Legislature’s long-time champion for rural broadband expansion has been tapped to lead the entity charged with overseeing the state’s broadband connectivity plan.
State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) has been elected chairman of the Alabama Digital Expansion Authority, according to a release from his office. The authority was created under the Connect Alabama Act of 2021, legislation sponsored by State Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville).
Scofield, who also serves as his chamber’s majority leader, has seen the benefits of rural broadband expansion following the implementation of a grant program he helped create.
“Providing high-speed internet to rural and unserved communities in Alabama has been one of my top priorities since I was first elected to the Senate over a decade ago,” he said. “We have witnessed our state transform into an economic powerhouse over the years, cultivating industrial expansion, job growth, technological advancements, and much more.”
Scofield has previously emphasized the importance broadband expansion to Alabama’s rural communities, saying, “It’s imperative for not only the growth but the survivability of rural Alabama.”
The Connect Alabama Act establishes the Alabama Digital Expansion Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs that will prepare and execute the connectivity plan and establish and oversee a broadband accessibility grant program. The grant program will foster the placement and approval of high-speed broadband internet networks, services and technologies across the state.
During passage of the legislation, Garrett noted that the law would enable the state to develop a more comprehensive plan for expansion and an ability to access more funding.
“Doing so will enhance Alabama’s education, health care system and economy,” Garrett explained. “The state actually has no connectivity strategy or plan right now. All we really have is the ADECA program — which works very successfully, it’s a very good program. We like the way it operates. But $20 million a year is not going to solve the problem, which is to get internet access throughout this entire state.”
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia