The ConnectLA team is the broadband resource in Louisiana. The Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity is housed in the Louisiana Division of Administration and strives to eliminate the digital divide in Louisiana by 2029. Our aim is to coordinate federal, state and municipal efforts identifying best practices and tactics necessary in our mission. We have had the privilege of visiting with local stakeholders and 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 financial resources are available to address issues surrounding access, affordability and digital literacy. We are off to a great start: Louisiana is the first state to receive award approval for the Capital Projects Fund (GUMBO), as well as the first state to receive broadband award approval from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Additionally, Louisiana is No. 1 in the nation for Affordable Connectivity Program enrollment, a $30 per month internet subsidy.
Meet the Team
Veneeth is the first executive director for the state of Louisiana's broadband efforts (also known as ConnectLA). He is responsible for coordinating efforts among federal, state and local leaders in allocating nearly $1.6 Billion in federal funds to eliminate the digital divide in Louisiana by 2029.
He and his team are considered thought leaders in the broadband community for their rapid scale up and execution of federal dollars to impact the 1.7 million residents in Louisiana who lack high speed internet. Louisiana's efforts have been recognized nationally, and he is often asked to speak at events hosted and or organized by the Pew Charitable Trusts, National Governors Association, Consumer Electronics Show, Fiber Broadband Association, National Conference of State Legislators, US Department of Commerce's SelectUSA Summit, Federalist Society, American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institute and leading other organizations.
ConnectLA's work also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Politico, Axios, Fierce Telecom, Telecompetitor, Associated Press, Semafor, The Advocate, USA Today's network of newspapers and other leading telecom publications.
Their office has also been recognized nationally and among other states in the following ways:
• #1 - Received approval from US Treasury for then plan to spend $176 Million in American Rescue Plan Dollars
• #1 - Recipients of the first dollars from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-Broadband/National Telecommunications and Information Administration
• #1 - Adoption of the Affordable Connectivity Program on a per capita basis
• #6 - National Digital Inclusion Alliance's Digital Opportunity Index, which measures how well states are addressing digital opportunity
• #8 - Largest allocation of Broadband Dollars from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill ($1.36 Billion)
From 2018-2021, he was the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for the Mayor-President of East Baton Rouge Parish. During, the parish saw the best year in history for economic development projects. He was involved in the lifecycle of Economic Development deals and he led the administration's response in helping small business owners during the pandemic.
In 2020, Veneeth was asked by the Governor to co-chair his Resilient Louisiana Healthcare Task Force, which included the CEOs of leading healthcare systems, payors and rural healthcare organizations in the state. The task force recommended approaches to create an innovative healthcare economy given the challenges posed by the pandemic. Prior 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 former CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation under President George W. Bush.
In 2023, Veneeth received the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Impact Award, the Woodrow Wilson Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service from Johns Hopkins University in 2022, 2020 Leadership Louisiana Recipient by the Council for a Better Louisiana and 2018 Forty under 40 in Baton Rouge by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.
He is on Ochsner's Health State Advisory Board with the focus of significantly improving the healthcare rankings in the state, Board of Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation and Chairman for Innovation Catalyst, a non-profit evergreen investment based in Baton Rouge that has made more than a dozen investments startups.
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.
Thomas Tyler Jr.
Thomas Tyler has experience in technology strategy, cybersecurity affairs, economic development, and public policy disciplines. As the Deputy Director for Louisiana’s Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, he has served an instrumental role in standing up key initiatives and lead numerous functions ranging from policy and government relations to strategic planning and grant program administration. He has received national recognition from a variety of stakeholders, a direct result of the thought-leadership of the office and stewardship of some of the most impactful investments the state has made in its diverse communities over the past several years.
Previously, Thomas served both in the public and private sectors, leading Louisiana Economic Development’s Digital Interactive Media and Software Development Incentive Program, administering and growing one 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, leveraging key incentives and public policy instruments to facilitate significant private and public sector investments in Louisiana communities.
Additionally, he has served as a consultant and advisor for one of the nation’s leading cybersecurity and technology advisory practices. He provided information security and technology strategy, consulting, and training services to a variety of clients crossing numerous sectors, sizes, and complexities.
Thomas is recognized for his invaluable contributions to stakeholders, speaking and providing advisory services to organizations such as the US Department of Commerce, Pew Charitable Trusts, National Governors Association, Fiber Broadband Association, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Telecommunications Industry Association, Tech Policy Institute, Smart Cities Council, Mountain Connect, Collision Conference, Business Resource Network, Society of Louisiana CPAs and the Louisiana Bankers Association.
Thomas is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a graduate of Louisiana State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He is an active member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Baton Rouge and in 2022 was named to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Forty Under 40” list. He resides in Baton Rouge with his wife and three children.
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.
|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
|Designee of Louisiana Department of Health
|Monique B. Boulet
|At-large Business Executive
|Janet S. Britton
|Representative of Louisiana Telecommunications Association
|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
|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
|Designee of the superintendent of Louisiana Department of Education
|Kim Hunter Reed*
|Designee of the Commissioner of Higher Education
|Designee of the Commissioner of Agriculture
|Rep. Christopher Turner*
|Designee of the Chairman of Louisiana Legislative Rural Caucus
|Jennifer L. Vidrine
|Representative of LMA
|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 email@example.com 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.