From State of Mississippi Digital Skills and Accessibility Plan

Mississippi’s vision includes broadband accessibility for all citizens with numerous pathways for continued learning so all can partake of the incredible opportunities available in this digital age. Deployment funded by the federal Broadband Equity and Accessibility Deployment program will provide affordable highspeed internet access to all Mississippians. Concurrently, the federal Digital Equity State Program will allow Mississippi to leverage existing digital skills and training programs and define new pathways for our citizens to access the ever growing and changing opportunities provided by technology. This investment in deployment, digital skills training, and increased accessibility is a much needed investment in Mississippi’s future.

The State of Mississippi has momentum. Last year saw over $6 billion in new economic development projects within the State.  Per capita personal income increased by over 20% in the past few years and unemployment remains at an all-time low.  Mississippi’s educational gains have been referred to as the “Mississippi Miracle.” Students went from being ranked forty-ninth in 2013 for 4th grade reading to twentyfirst in the nation in 2022. In 4th grade math, Mississippi went from dead last to twenty-third. Graduation rates are better than the national average, and students from all walks of life are finding success in Mississippi.

Mississippi is focused on the future, and digital skills and accessibility are the key to solving many of the problems of the past. Device access and high-speed internet availability at every residence will provide our students from pre-k through the graduate level with educational resources never before available. Remote work will give opportunities to those who may have transportation, mobility, or childcare issues that otherwise kept them out of the workforce. Tech jobs will proliferate among our citizens as workforce development programs focus on the skills of the future. Access to telehealth will provide healthcare for those living in remote areas that lack providers, and be a driving force in lowering Mississippi’s high rate of infant and maternal mortality. The prevalence of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes will decrease with access to monitoring and increased methods of intervention. Precision agriculture will exponentially increase crop yields for our farm families. Connectivity will propel our small businesses into the global economy.

The opportunities and benefits of broadband accessibility for all Mississippians are unlimited. The BEAM Office intends to work in partnership with federal, state, and local governments and agencies, nonprofit, educational institutions, associations, and all others to deploy service to all, provide skills training, create pathways for device access, and support ongoing digital learning. Mississippi has momentum, and broadband accessibility will keep that momentum moving.