Smart Rural Community® (SRC) Providers like GRM Networks play important roles in connecting the communities they serve — connections that provide access to broadband internet creating greater opportunities for telehealth, precision agriculture, distance learning and remote work. These broadband connections were highlighted last week at Fiber Field Day, an event hosted by Missouri’s Smart Rural Community broadband providers and held at the GRM Networks headquarters in Princeton, Missouri.

“Broadband internet plays an integral role in our daily lives,” said Mitchell Bailey, Chief Executive Officer of GRM Networks. “Fiber Field Day offered attendees the opportunity to see how Missouri’s Smart Rural Community broadband providers are working together to create opportunities through fiber connectivity.”

Besides GRM Networks, other participating broadband providers included Chariton Valley Broadband, LLC of Macon; Green Hills Telephone Corporation of Breckenridge; Kingdom Telephone Company of Auxvasse; Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company (NEMR) of Green City; and Steelville Telephone Exchange, Inc. of Steelville.

Featured speakers included Taylor Holland, Manager of Strategic Communications for NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association; BJ Tanksley, Director of the Office of Broadband Development for the state of Missouri; and Will McIntee, the Director of Strategic Engagement, Office of Public Engagement at the White House.

During his remarks, Holland highlighted the work of Missouri’s SRC providers, “They know it’s not just about putting fiber in the ground, it’s about what that fiber connection enables,” said Holland. “Those connections include the teacher who can connect with their student, the doctor who can provide telehealth services, the family that’s able to move to the new neighborhood because it’s connected, or the grandparents who can hop on Skype and talk to their grandkids who live across the country.”

Tanksley spoke about funding broadband fiber construction and about the opportunities fiber broadband connections create. “Advancements are coming in every field,” said Tanksley. “We are trying to make sure internet connections are available no matter where you live.”

McIntee thanked the SRC broadband providers for their work connecting their communities which in turn provides valuable job opportunities and economic development. “Too many young people feel like they have to leave their home or their community to find opportunities,” he said.

Federal and state policy makers in attendance included Missouri Senator Rusty Black; Missouri Representatives Danny Busick and Greg Sharpe; Taylor Blackwell from U.S. Senator Josh Hawley’s office; Christian Holferty from the office of U.S. Congressman Sam Graves; Missouri Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Chris Klenklen; and Shane Ebeling, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Area 1 Director, Missouri.

Smart Rural Community is an initiative of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, a national trade association that represents approximately 850 locally operated, facilities-based rural broadband providers throughout the United States. Smart Rural Community promotes collaboration among rural broadband providers and other local leaders to identify and deploy innovative broadband-enabled solutions to support agriculture, economic development, education, health care, and other vital services in rural areas.