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Three Ohio Organizations Receive USDA Distance Learning, Telemedicine Funding

Heather Hartley
Release Date

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is awarding grants for 128 projects to increase access to job training (PDF, 351 KB), educational and health care services in rural areas. Among them are awards totaling more than $957,000 to Lorain County Community College, the Toronto Board of Education in Jefferson County, and Mercy Health of Cincinnati. 

“Empowering rural Americans with access to services for quality of life and economic development is critical to rural prosperity,” Secretary Perdue said. “Distance learning and telemedicine technology bridges the gap that often exists between rural communities and essential education, workforce training and health care resources.”

USDA is awarding $39.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.

In Ohio:

  • Lorain County Community College will use its DLT award to create a newer, more modern distance learning network. This will allow a greater impact in the core fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to be offered to one community college and seven schools located in Lorain, Ashland and Huron counties, serving 16,721 residents. The programs made possible with these funds will use augmented and virtual reality technology to teach courses like Physiology and Anatomy. There also will be unique opportunities to learn skills used in manufacturing and agriculture, including the emerging technology of drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). 
  • The Toronto, Ohio City School District (Jefferson County) will use its DLT award to purchase equipment to create opioid health education, treatment, and prevention programs for families. The project will implement a comprehensive opioid treatment and misuse prevention program. The hub site will be in Weirton, W.Va., with two end-user sites in Toronto. The district will encompass three partners and sites: CHANGE, Inc. in Newell, W.Va., Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville, Ohio, and Future Farmers of America (FFA) Camps in Carrollton, Ohio. Families also will have access to healthcare onsite, supported by additional healthcare professionals via telecommunications. Students may access dual-credit offerings from Eastern Gateway Community College along with STEM coursework and counseling workshops from Ohio FFA Camps. Based on the communities served, this project has the potential to impact a population of 45,746. 
  • Mercy Health Cincinnati, LLC, will use its DLT award to extend telehealth services into Adams and Brown counties in southwest Ohio. The project will link three urban Cincinnati hubs to five rural and medically-underserved sites in Georgetown, Mt. Orab, Sardinia and Seaman. This project will address critical shortages in behavioral health and specialty care to deliver solutions to opioid misuse patients in Adams and Brown counties while providing other primary care and specialty services potentially impacting more than 10,863 residents. 

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President 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 key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.