MISSOURI (NEXSTAR) — Missouri’s Department of Economic Development (DED) has awarded $12 million for the construction of new cell towers that will improve reception for residents in dozens of counties, including several in southwest Missouri.

According to a release, DED has awarded funds to fund 29 projects through the Cell Towers Grant Program, which is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and administered by DED’s Office of Broadband Development.

Awards will be used to construct new towers that “…provide quality cellular service and greater 911 connectivity to high-cost areas.”

Projects receiving funds are expected to serve more than 17,000 high-need locations across the state, including Cedar, Dent, Howell, Laclede, Oregon, Ozark, St. Clair, Texas, Vernon and Wright counties. Other counties impacted include Adair, Audrain, Caldwell, Callaway, Carroll, Cass, Chariton, Clark, Clinton, Crawford, Crawford, Davies, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Holt, Jackson, Johnson, Knox, Lewis, Livingston, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Pettis, Pike, Ralls, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby and Washington.

“Expanding cellular connectivity statewide remains a top priority for both public safety and economic growth,” said Governor Mike Parson. “We’re proud to continue making historic investments in critical infrastructure like cellular service to build a stronger future for Missouri. These grant awards will make a positive difference by expanding cellular service for thousands of Missourians.”

Under the program requirements, applicants also contributed private funding. Each awarded project will result in the construction of one cellular tower, for a total of 29 statewide.

DED opened a second round of funding through the Cell Towers Grant Program on Oct. 20. An additional $7.9 million will be available to eligible providers and tower owners for the construction of new towers.

The program application portal will close on Nov. 10, 2023, with awards announced Dec. 29.

More information about DED’s ARPA-funded grant programs is available on their website.