U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Vernita Dore today participated in a roundtable discussion to learn how a number of rural telecommunications companies have used USDA funding in recent years to support broadband expansion across rural Iowa.
“Bringing broadband to rural parts of Iowa is having a tremendous impact on many communities all across the state,” Dore said. “This access means more jobs, better education and a higher quality of life. The economic viability of rural America, like all of America, depends on access to broadband.”
Since 2009, USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has invested a total of $345 million in rural Iowa to assist with broadband development projects that have spurred economic development and job creation, enhanced educational opportunities and improved healthcare options with services that were previously available only in large urban cities.
Today’s roundtable discussion was held at Iowa Network Services (INS).
These USDA investments work in conjunction with Ripple Effect, a program formed by INS and the Iowa Area Development Group (IADG), which provides financial and technical assistance program options to business and community-development projects through Iowa’ independent telephone companies and their partners.
“Economic development and broadband expansion is a huge challenge for rural communities who can’t do it alone,” said Ron Keller, INS Chief Executive Officer. “Programs like Ripple Effect provide the access to necessary resources and know how that can connect these communities to the programs that USDA provides.”
While a many of Iowa’s households have access to standard broadband download and upload speeds, access to broadband in rural parts of the state continues to be an issue.
One of the roundtable participants was Chuck Deisbeck with Western Iowa Networks whose company used USDA funding in 2014 to successfully bring gigabit internet service to residents in and around the rural communities of Breda (pop. 483) and Lidderdale (pop. 180) in rural Carroll County and Westside (pop. 299) in rural Crawford County, along with the community of Carroll.
Other success stories were shared by representatives from Minburn Communications, Grand River Mutual Networks (also known as GRM) and Interstate Communications.
USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Iowa. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities for Iowa families.
This past year USDA Rural Development’s investment in Iowa helped create or retain more than 1,000 jobs, aided 2,400 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 50 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.
Contact USDA Rural Development
For more information about finance programs available through USDA Rural Development, please call (515) 284-4663 or visit the agency’s web site at www.rd.usda.gov/ia.
USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities and areas. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way - strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.