Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston announced Monday (July 11) that Glen Howie has been named the state’s new Director of Broadband. Howie comes to the Commerce Department from Louisiana’s Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity.
Howie will begin his role on August 1.
“I’m pleased to welcome Glen Howie to Arkansas, and I am confident that he is up to the task of expanding the availability of broadband to every corner of the state,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Broadband delivery has always been one of my top priorities. For Arkansas to reach its full economic potential, we need to do everything we can to close the digital divide and ensure that our citizens in rural communities have the same opportunities as their counterparts in larger cities. I believe Howie is the perfect choice to lead our efforts into the next phase of growth and implementation.”
As broadband director, Howie will advise the governor and the secretary of commerce on key issues related to the deployment of broadband throughout Arkansas. He will lead the agency’s efforts for broadband and oversee a three-year plan to provide broadband access to 110,000 underserved households throughout all areas of the state.
“I am excited to name Glen Howie as director of our broadband office,” said Preston. “Not only does he come highly recommended with a wealth of knowledge concerning broadband policy, but he has been on the frontline in one of the most highly regarded broadband offices in the country. He knows how we need to focus our efforts to ensure that everyone in Arkansas has access to affordable broadband and has the skills to use it. I have no doubt that he will hit the ground running with fresh ideas to make our goals a reality.”
As senior policy analyst for the Louisiana Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, Howie helped form and implement Louisiana’s broadband policy in regard to access, affordability, digital literacy, and inclusion, as well as the development of regulatory rules regarding Louisiana’s first $177 million broadband infrastructure grant program.
Louisiana was one of the first four states in the country to have its fund plans approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. The state also ranked first in the country in enrollment in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, relative to eligible households, and was recognized for its stakeholder engagement efforts by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.
“Like railways two centuries ago and electricity 100 years ago, broadband internet access today has become a critical piece of infrastructure, igniting economic growth, improving health outcomes, enhancing agricultural output, and advancing the educational experience of our children,” Howie said.
Hutchinson created the Arkansas Broadband Office in July 2019 to improve Internet access in the state’s rural areas. Since its inception, the office has awarded more than $386 million in grants through the Arkansas Rural Connect grant program.
Steven Porch, who has led the state broadband office’s Arkansas Rural Connect program on a temporary basis since 2020, will remain Chief Legal Counsel for the Commerce Department and continue to be an advisor to the broadband office.