Heartland Forward Launches Broadband Careers Site with Arkansas and Louisiana


Jobs board funded by Pew and supported by employers also aims to elevate training of broadband workers.

Drew Clark Heartland Forward Launches Broadband Careers Site with Arkansas and Louisiana Photo of Solomon Graves, regional connectedness program manger at Heartland Forward, on Tuesday

HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas, June 26, 2024 – Pew Charitable Trusts and four large telecommunications companies on Tuesday launched an online platform designed to boost job prospects for workers in broadband industries in Arkansas and Louisiana.

The announcement at the Arkansas BEAD conference here on Tuesday is part of the think tank Heartland Forward’s efforts to advance better broadband and be a resource for state and local communities in what the group calls “the middle of the country.”

“The number one economic issue of our time is having access to affordable high-speed internet, but we need more talent in this field to connect every family,” said Ross DeVol, CEO of Heartland Forward. “By facilitating access to jobs and training, the Connecting the Heartland Broadband Jobs Board attracts new talent and bolsters our broadband infrastructure, ensuring continued growth and connectivity in heartland communities.”

Arkansas will require 8,000 jobs and Louisiana will require 5,000 jobs to complete the state’s broadband buildouts, Heartland Forward said. 

In addition to job posting, the resource is designed to help elevate the skills and training of potential workers. Job seekers will be able to access training specific to jobs posted by employers. AT&T, Cablelynx Broadband, Cox Communications and Ritter Communications and the employers currently on the platform. 

“These providers understand that in order to be successful, it is imperative that they partner, not only in the industry, but outside of the traditional broadband sector,” said Solomon Graves, regional connectedness program manager at Heartland Forward, speaking at the event. 

“We have a very finite timeline” for broadband deployments under the government Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, said Graves.

Arkansas ranks fifth among states for job growth, and boasts record-high jobs and declining unemployment rates – complicating efforts to obtain workers for broadband projects.

“We need a strong workforce with expertise in this area” to accelerate broadband, said Arkansas State Broadband Director Glen Howie. “The Connecting the Heartland Broadband Jobs Board will ultimately positively impact lives for the better.”

The Connecting the Heartland Broadband Jobs Board is one part of Heartland Forward’s multi-pronged Connecting the Heartland initiative. This effort seeks to boost internet availability, affordability and adoption rates for participation in online services that are key to economic opportunity.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly noted the title of Solomon Graves of Heartland Forward. He is regional competitiveness program manager, not associate manager.