MONTGOMERY - The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs established a new division dedicated to expanding access to high-speed internet throughout the state.
ADECA's Digital Expansion Division was created through the Connect Alabama Act of 2021. The legislation, sponsored by State Sen. Del Marsh and State Rep. Danny Garrett and signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey, created the new division within ADECA and created the Alabama Digital Expansion Authority to oversee broadband expansion in the state. The authority is chaired by State Sen. Clay Scofield and co-chaired by State Rep. Randall Shedd.
ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell appointed longtime ADECA manager Maureen Neighbors as chief of the new Digital Expansion Division. Neighbors previously served as chief of ADECA's Energy Division since January 2017. The Energy Division was responsible for statewide broadband programs, including the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund that Gov. Ivey signed into law in 2018 and the Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students program, which provided internet vouchers for Alabama families when many schools switched to virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Ivey has long supported the expansion of broadband across the state and commended these latest steps.
"ADECA has been doing a great job with broadband expansion, and this new division working with the Digital Expansion Authority will continue to expand this vital infrastructure in Alabama," Gov. Ivey said. "Together, we are working to close the gaps in high-speed internet access in Alabama, which will help bring more jobs and bolster our economy."
Since 2018, ADECA has awarded grants for more than 90 projects to expand broadband access to unserved areas through the Alabama Broadband Connectivity Fund. Administration of the fund will now move to the new division.