GRM Networks hosted U.S. Senator Roy Blunt on October 25th as he designated the cities of Princeton and Mercer, Missouri, as Smart Rural Communities. Senator Blunt has been a strong advocate for legislative policy that has helped cultivate growth and advancement in the telecommunications and technology industries.

GRM Networks was nationally recognized as a Smart Rural Community Provider® by industry association NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association for their ongoing efforts to deliver the best telecommunications services. The Smart Rural Community program promotes rural broadband networks and broadband-enabled applications that are critical to rural communities to foster innovative economic development, education, telehealth, precision agriculture, work-from-home and other vital services.

Senator Blunt spoke to the importance of Smart Rural Communities noting many people like the appeal of rural lifestyles. “There are a lot of people that would like to live in communities like Princeton or Mercer, where school sports are still a big deal and church activities are a part of the community,” he said. “You may not know every kid’s name, but you have a pretty good idea where every kid lives and that makes a difference … But that won’t happen the way it should happen, if you can’t be connected. The key to being able to do that is connectedness.”

GRM Networks has worked with community members, economic development agencies, anchor institutions, and local governments to ensure that communities in their service area have equal opportunity for education, resources and entrepreneurship. “We are excited to announce the completion of our fiber build to the cities of Princeton and Mercer as Senator Blunt designates them Smart Rural Communities,” said Mitchell Bailey, CEO of GRM Networks. “This designation signifies that every home and business in these areas has fiber access.”

GRM Networks has a long history of commitment to providing the highest level of service to their customers. “We began fiber-to-the-premise service in 2009 when we received $61.8 million through the Broadband Initiative Program in the form of a combination of grants and loans,” said Bailey. That was followed in 2019 by a $41.6 million grant/loan from the United States Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program that allowed the cooperative to further their pledge to bring fiber internet to customers.

Senator Blunt noted the commitment of GRM Networks to bring fiber to customers saying, “You’re company has moved in a significant direction in a fairly short period of time.”

Bailey reiterated the cooperatives commitment saying, “Our focus remains on our rural communities as we keep a vigilant eye on state and federal funding opportunities to assist in the continued construction of a fiber-to-the-premise network. The signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last year appropriated more money specifically earmarked for broadband infrastructure.

“By the end of this year, we will have completed fiber-to-the-premise construction to 87 percent of our serving area,” said Bailey. “We are committed to fulfilling our pledge to bring fiber broadband to all our customers by the end of 2025.”