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Glen Howie named new Arkansas broadband director

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Glen Howie Twitter page
Glen Howie will be responsible for helping Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston expand broadband access in the state.

A new broadband director has been named for Arkansas. Glen Howie who comes from the Louisiana Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity and will lead the state’s broadband expansion.

“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 in a press release. “It is an honor and privilege to be entrusted to build upon the prior success of the state broadband office and lead the team charged with providing a transformational opportunity to all Arkansans."

As a senior policy analyst for the Louisiana Broadband Office Development and Connectivity, Howie was responsible for developing regulations for that state’s $177 million infrastructure grant program. Louisiana was one of the first four states in the country to have its plans approved by the U.S Treasury Department.

“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," Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said. "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 part of his job, Howie will advise Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Preston on internet-related issues. Hutchinson created the Arkansas Broadband Office three years ago, which aims to improve Internet access in rural parts of the state.

“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,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

According to a spokesperson from the Arkansas Department of Commerce, Howie will lead the department's three-year initiative to provide broadband access to 110,000 households. Tom Flak, a consultant with Broadband Development Group which was hired by the state to help develop a master plan, has said Arkansas could potentially receive as much as $1 billion from an infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last fall to help expand broadband access.

Currently, the Broadband Office has two full-time employees, along with administrative staff. Preston has said he wants to eventually expand the office to five full-time employees. Steven Porch, who led the office’s Arkansas Rural Connect program for the past two years, will remain chief legal counsel for commerce. Howie will begin his role as director on Aug. 1.

In an email, Alisha Curtis, chief communications director for the AEDC, said Howie will be paid $125,000 a year, which is below the $149,000 to $181,000 approved by the legislative Uniform Personnel Classification and Compensation subcommittee.

Ronak Patel is a reporter for KUAR News focusing on state and local government.
Josie Lenora is a news anchor and reporter for UA Little Rock Public Radio. She grew up listening to KUAR and NPR News and says she is thrilled to give back to an organization she loves. Josie first interned in the fall of 2021 assisting in production for KUAR and KLRE, then in spring of 2022 spent a semester interning as a new anchor before joining the staff.
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