Editor’s note: The USDA is releasing details on new investments through its ReConnect Program almost daily. See the list at the bottom of this article for the very latest. The most recent update was on December 18, 2019 with the announcement of $5.6 million for rural West Virginia communities.
Bowling Green, KY. (December 5, 2019) – Over the past couple months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested in rural broadband development across the United States through its ReConnect Loan and Grant Program. According to the USDA, this program offers “unique federal financing options in the form of grants, loans, and combinations thereof to create or improve rural e-Connectivity for rural customers across America.”
“Deploying high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or ‘e-Connectivity,’ in rural America expands access to essential health, educational, social and business opportunities,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy, in a recent USDA press release.
These investments will bring improvement to broadband infrastructure in the country’s most rural areas.
Tennessee was the first state to receive money in this second round of funding, which U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Oct. 18, 2019. Tennessee’s Forked Deer Electric Cooperative was awarded a grant to provide 347 households with high-speed internet (broadband) access. The Volunteer State was the first of many that would receive support from the USDA.
Over the past month and a half, the program has continued to award millions of dollars in grants and loans to rural America. The states that received the largest funding are Missouri and Southern Iowa with $41.6 million combined, North Carolina with $23.7 million, and Alaska with $18.88 million. These are some of the country’s most unserved and underserved areas when it comes to high-speed internet.
Illinois and Alabama are the most recent states to receive funding. Announced just yesterday, the USDA awarded Illinois’s Wabash Telephone Cooperative $12.8 million — half of which is a loan, the other half a grant loan — to deploy fiber-optic cable. This is expected to reach 1,684 households and around 70 other organizations. Late this afternoon, the USDA announced that Alabama’s Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, Millry Telephone Company, Inc., Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc., and National Telephone of Alabama, Inc. were collectively awarded $62.3 million in grants and loans.
The USDA will continue to roll out approved projects in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for the USDA website new release page, which is updated daily with new announcements.
Funding Amount for Each State (last update: December 18, 2019)
Alaska – $18.88 million
Alabama – $62.3 million
Colorado & Utah – $5.13 million combined
Illinois – $12.8 million
Kansas – $5.2 million
Missouri & Iowa – $41.6 million combined
New York – $4.3 million
North Carolina – $7.9 million
Oklahoma – $4.2 million
Oregon – $6 million
South Carolina – $8.1 million
South Dakota – $9.5 million
Tennessee – $2.85 million
Virginia – $5.6 million and Rural West Virginia $3.8 million (two separate announcements)
Wyoming – $4.79 million
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