Governor Bill Lee said all areas of the state need to prosper in order for Tennessee to be an economic leader, and broadband in rural areas is a key to helping rural Tennesseans thrive.
Speaking to members of the newly renamed Tennessee Broadband Association last week, Lee pledged to help foster solutions for rural broadband expansion in the future.
“What happens in rural Tennessee profoundly impacts every Tennessean,” Lee said.
The governor, who told the audience he can’t get broadband internet speeds at his home, acknowledged that such a lack of connectivity is crippling for someone running a business or pursuing a degree. “We have a lot of work to do,” Lee said. “Every single person in Tennessee’s life can be improved by the things that we do together.”
Lee highlighted economic development, health care, and educational opportunities as areas where he felt reliable broadband would have the biggest impact on rural Tennesseans. He mentioned the importance of rural broadband as it relates to telemedicine and health care in his State of the State Address in March.
“We’re moving in the right direction and doing what needs to be done,” Lee told members of the media. He also detailed his beliefs of government’s role in broadband expansion. “Government can’t provide broadband services all over the state,” he said. “Government’s not the answer, but government has a really important role. We create an environment for collaborative partnerships that will help to solve the problems of our day.”