On March 23, staff from NTIA’s Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth held the second technical assistance webinar prior to the release of the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act broadband programs. On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. This Act includes a significant investment of $65 billion to help close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband.
Moderated by Gilbert Resendez, Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA, members of the OICG team provided an overview of stakeholder engagement, giving details on how to engage stakeholders and utilize effective partnerships as participants in the IIJA broadband programs. In addition to the panelists below, Special Representative for Broadband Andy Berke provided a welcome and opening remarks for the webinar. Panelists included:
- Gilbert Resendez, Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
- Julia Pulidindi, Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
- Michell Morton, Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
Resendez presented an overview of the state stakeholder engagement activities during IIJA programs, minimum program requirements, and key components of stakeholder engagement. In addition to reviewing the existing statutory requirements, Resendez discussed the benefits to local stakeholder engagement.
Benefits to Engaging Local Stakeholders Include:
- Opening a dialogue
- Tapping diverse expertise
- Building early buy-in
- Improving transparency
- Energizing stakeholders
Pulidindi presented on engagement strategy, value of strong stakeholder engagement, role of local governments in planning strategy, how states and localities may collaborate, and identifying existing activities. Furthermore, consideration was given to how engagement roles would be established, organizational resource capacity, and tracking engagement impact.
Morton presented best practices to tailor your approach to work with community-based organizations. This includes investing early, committing to transparency, creating a feedback loop, prioritizing activities, and recognizing the link between broadband and other goals.
During the question-and-answer component of the webinar, panelists answered questions regarding a variety of programmatic, planning, and technical topics.
NTIA’s pre-NOFO technical assistance webinars are designed to help prospective applicants understand NTIA’s IIJA broadband grant programs and to assist applicants to prepare high quality grant applications. To view video recording, transcript, and presentation materials for our overview on stakeholder engagement, please visit its past events page. Please register for our next scheduled Pre-NOFO Technical Assistance webinar on April 6 on enabling conditions.