The final guidelines for the $20 million Missouri Cell Tower Grant Program have been released by the state’s Department of Economic Development (DED). The state will begin accepting applications in the funding program on May 31 and eligible entities have until July 25 to submit their applications.
The program is being funded through the U.S. Department of the Treasury Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF), which is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The program has $17 million available for the construction of new towers and $3 million for retrofitting and/or refurbishing existing towers. If not all the funding is awarded in one of the categories, the remainder can be transferred to the other category.
The goal is to award all the funding in one round, though additional rounds are possible if money remains.
Eligible entities include cellular service providers who own their own towers or can demonstrate a partnership with a tower owner, as well as tower owners that can demonstrate a partnership with a cellular provider. Projects must provide quality service (4G LTE or higher), provide 911 service and be located in unserved high-cost areas, which are those with less than 50 persons per square mile.
According to the 33-page Missouri cell tower funding guidelines, applicants can request between $25,000 and $300,000 for retrofit/refurbishments. New tower applicants can request between $100,000 and $750,000. The maximum per applicant per cycle is $8 million.
Matching funds are not required, but projects will score higher if at least 20% of project costs come from private sources. Other elements of the scoring system include:
- Level of impact: Structures served (25 points); closest tower (5 points); traffic survey (10 points); additional considerations (5 points); community engagement (5 points)
- Project viability: technical approach (20 points); organizational capability (10 points)
- Budget (20 points)
- Private investment funds: (20 points)
- Cost per structure served: (10 points)
- Sustainability: sustainability (5 points); scalability (3 points); financial ability to maintain (2 points); affordability (5 points)
- Locating on public land: (15 points).
Missouri also has funding programs for broadband deployments. Earlier this year, the state awarded $261 million for that purpose.
Updated with a new date for the program to begin accepting applications, per information provided by the state