The ConnectLA team is THE broadband resource in Louisiana. The Office of Broadband Development & Connectivity is housed in the Louisiana Division of Administration and strives to alleviate the digital divide in Louisiana. Our aim is to coordinate federal, state and municipal efforts identifying best practices and executing tactics to close the digital divide by 2029. We have had the privilege and honor to visit with local stakeholders and spoken to hundreds of Louisiana residents: parents, teachers, small business owners, healthcare workers, farmers, first responders and everyone in between. We are inspired by their motivation to stamp out the digital divide in their communities as soon as possible. Our office is operating under that same sense of urgency to ensure the financial resources are available to address issues around access, affordability and digital literacy. We are off to a great start to solving the digital divide. Louisiana is ranked 18th in access to gigabit internet by U.S. News & World Report and 33rd in access by BroadbandNow. Learn more about our recent rankings below:
Meet the Team
Veneeth is responsible for coordinating efforts among federal, state and local leaders to eliminate the digital divide in Louisiana by 2029. Previously, he was an Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. During his time, the parish saw the best year in history for economic development projects. His role included outreach to executives from leading tech, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies throughout the country and involvement in economic development deals--including the recent Amazon acquisition of Cortana Mall and the redevelopment of a 76,000 square-foot hospital building.
Veneeth was asked by Gov. John Bel Edwards to co-chair his Resilient Louisiana Healthcare Task Force, which included the CEOs of Ochsner, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. The task force recommended approaches to create an innovative healthcare economy given the challenges posed by the pandemic. Previous to his time as a public servant, Veneeth helped build the Venture Capital/Private Equity healthcare practice for Sage Growth Partners and worked in the Office of the Honorable Robert Mosbacher Jr., former CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation under President George W. Bush.
Veneeth was named a 2018 Forty under 40 in Baton Rouge by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, named a 2020 Leadership Louisiana Recipient by the Council for Better Louisiana, elected to the Board of the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation in 2019 and appointed as a chairman for Innovation Catalyst, an evergreen investment fund in 2019.
He received his Master of Science in finance from Johns Hopkins University and his Bachelor of Science in economics from Purdue University. Veneeth grew up in Baton Rouge and attended Baton Rouge High School.
I am grateful to be given this awesome opportunity to partner with the people of Louisiana to solve the digital divide by 2029. ConnectLA is designed with a singular mission to be your resource in developing tactical, innovative and creative ways to address issues around access, affordability and literacy, and we will achieve our vision in partnership with the community.
Thomas Tyler Jr.
Thomas has experience in technology strategy, cybersecurity concerns, economic development and public policy disciplines. Throughout the past 13 years, he has operated in a variety of roles supporting public and private entities. Most recently, he served as a consultant and adviser for one of the nation’s leading cybersecurity and technology advisory practices. Thomas' experience includes providing information security and technology strategy, consulting and training services to a variety of clients. He has also been responsible for developing growth strategies and leading training for a variety of industry groups and clients, including the Business Resource Network, the Society of Louisiana CPAs and the Louisiana Bankers Association.
Previously, Thomas led Louisiana Economic Development’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive Program, administering and growing one of the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive incentive programs for this industry. He assisted companies and startups of all sizes to facilitate statewide investments into workforce development opportunities. Thomas is a Baton Rouge native and a graduate of LSU where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science.
As a lifelong resident of our great state, I understand the importance of enhancing the quality of life for every Louisianian. I know that the actions our office is taking will ensure that the future of Louisiana is bright for everyone.
Glen Howie Jr.
Senior Policy Analyst
Glen is a seasoned professional, bringing a unique set of professional experience, education and commitment to community with experience in both the private and public sectors. A community banker for nearly a decade, he brings practical experience and demonstrated expertise in team leadership, operational management, business development, community engagement and interpersonal communication. Glen previously served as an advisory board member of the Leadership Excel Program, a leadership development program in Acadia and Jefferson Davis parishes. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Rotary Club of Crowley, assisting in several impactful, community-based philanthropic efforts.
Most recently, Glen served in the administration of East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome where he worked on critical economic development efforts in the wake of the pandemic, including the launch of the Resilient Restart EBR Micro-grant Program. Glen earned both his undergraduate degree in finance and a master’s degree in public administration from LSU. Upon completion of his MPA program, he was selected as the recipient of the David B. Johnson Award for Academic Excellence, highlighting his academic achievement, critical analysis of public policy issues and commitment to improving public management.
Having family from some of the most rural parts of our state, namely Richland and Plaquemines parishes, I fully understand the digital divide. As a teenager, I can still remember having to go to a certain corner of a certain room in a certain section of my grandmother’s house in Start, La., to simply be able to send a text. The digital divide faced today by hundreds of thousands of Louisianians goes far beyond simply sending a text; it includes being able to complete a homework assignment, search for a job or schedule a telehealth visit. The work we are doing will affect lives for the better, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana
In August of 2019, by Executive Order, Gov. John Bel Edwards created the State of Louisiana’s Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana Commission. This commission will facilitate private sector providers, public entities, and other broadband stakeholders to improve both the adoption and availability of broadband service for Louisiana residents by providing universal access to broadband service with minimum committed speed of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload, scalable to up to 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload, for all Louisianians by 2029.
Providing broadband for everyone in Louisiana involves two parts—encouraging adoption by individuals and families who do not currently have broadband, and encouraging broadband providers to expand their networks to reach individuals and families who do not have access. The Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana Commission will focus on these two pillars—adoption and availability.
The Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity will work in conjunction with the Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana Commission.
The board members of the Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana Commission are listed below.
|Board Member||Seat Information|
|Sarah Olcott Allen||Representative of the Internet and TV Association|
|William R. Altimus||Representative of the LA Police Jury Association|
|Jeffrey J. Arnold||Representative of the Association of Electric Cooperatives|
|Bethany Blackson*||Designee of Louisiana Department of Health|
|Monique B. Boulet||At-large Business Executive|
|Janet S. Britton||Representative of Louisiana Telecommunications Association|
|April Brumfield||Representative of Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association|
|Ava M. Dejoie*||Representative of Louisiana Workforce Commission|
|Leslie A. Durham*||Governor's Designee to the Delta Regional Authority|
|Noble E. Ellington||Governor's Director of Rural Revitalization|
|Brandon M. Frey||Representative of Louisiana Public Service Commission|
|Richard "Dickie" Howze*||Designee of the Commissioner of Administration|
|Rep. Barry D. Ivey*||Designee of the Speaker of the House|
|Melissa H. Mann||At-large|
|Brad Manuel*||Designee of the Secretary of State|
|Josh L. McNemar*||Designee of DOTD|
|Sen. Beth Mizell*||Designee of the Senate President|
|Jody R. Montelaro||Representative of electric utility companies|
|Kim Nesmith*||Designee of the superintendent of Louisiana Department of Education|
|Kim Hunter Reed*||Designee of the Commissioner of Higher Education|
|Earl Thornton*||Designee of the Commissioner of Agriculture|
|Rep. Christopher Turner*||Designee of the Chairman of Louisiana Legislative Rural Caucus|
|Jennifer L. Vidrine||Representative of LMA|
|Patrick Witty||Designee of the Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development|
Connect With Us
Addressing the Digital Divide in communities across Louisiana will involve strategic public private partnerships. Stakeholders, such as governmental entities, ISPs, school boards or private companies looking to partner with our office on access, affordability and digital literacy issues should reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 225.219.7594. While our response may not be immediate, we do indeed read every email and return every call. We look forward to everyone’s thoughts and ideas regarding bridging the digital divide in Louisiana.
This website is a great resource for addressing issues surrounding access, affordability and digital literacy in Louisiana. View a short overview of the website here to understand how information is organized and where to go for specific details.