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USDA invests $152m to improve broadband service

USDA investing in projects to help improve quality of life in rural communities in 14 states.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $152 million in 19 projects to provide or improve rural broadband service in 14 states.

“Deploying high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or ‘e-Connectivity,’ in rural America expands access to essential health, educational, social and business opportunities,” USDA deputy undersecretary for rural development Donald “DJ” LaVoy said. “President [Donald] Trump and Agriculture Secretary [Sonny] Perdue are committed to fully utilizing all resources Congress provides for building and modernizing this critical infrastructure in rural America, because we believe that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

USDA is making the investments through the Community Connect Grant Program, the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Rural Broadband Access Loan & Loan Guarantee Program. Investing in telecommunications infrastructure connects people to each other: businesses to customers, farmers to markets and students to a world of knowledge.

Below are examples of the projects that will receive USDA funding:

  • Logan Telephone Cooperative Inc. will use a $34.4 million Telecommunications Program loan to upgrade a fiber-to-the-home system in Butler, Logan and Muhlenberg counties in southwestern Kentucky. The system will enable families, educators and businesses to access higher-speed broadband internet. More than 5,300 residential and business customers will benefit.
  • In Morton County, N.D., USDA is partnering with BEK Communications Cooperative by providing an $844,000 Community Connect Program grant to help spark economic and educational opportunities, enhance health care and bolster public safety. BEK will deploy a 49-mile fiber-to-the-home network. This project will bring high-speed broadband to 125 underserved households.
  • In southwest Virginia, iGo Technology Inc. will use a $3 million Community Connect grant to bring enhanced broadband opportunities to 820 homes and businesses. Part of the grant will be used to provide two years of free broadband services at The Bee Community Center in the town of Bee in Dickenson County.

To learn more about the selected project, view a pdf of all of the grants offered in the latest round of broadband funding.

The projects in which USDA is investing will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In April 2017, Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture & Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a cornerstone recommendation of the task force

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