U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director in Missouri Kyle Wilkens today announced $84.6 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in rural Missouri to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
“The ReConnect program helps to build high-speed internet infrastructure connecting small business owners to customers and markets in other parts of the state, around the country, and worldwide,” said Wilkens. “It also expands educational opportunities for students and enables rural households to access medical care, particularly to specialists, without leaving their homes. For too long many rural communities in Missouri have been left out of the digital economy. High-speed internet is now the lynch pin for rural communities to grow. For farmers in rural communities, a fast-growing market of smart technology designed specifically for agriculture can give them real-time access to vital information from sensors placed around their land holdings. The ReConnect program is allowing our rural communities and producers to keep up with the ever-evolving need for high-speed internet.
Under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $65 billion to connect everyone to high-speed internet through the Internet for All initiative. USDA is connecting more people to high-speed internet in this fourth funding round of the ReConnect Program. Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department has invested in 142 ReConnect projects that will bring high-speed internet access to 314,000 rural Americans.
Investments being highlighted today, include:
- Goodman Telephone Company Inc. will connect nearly 7,000 people, 206 farms, 140 businesses and two educational facilities to high-speed internet in McDonald and Newton counties.
- The Seneca Telephone Company will connect nearly 7,000 people, 240 farms, 178 businesses and 12 educational facilities to high-speed internet in McDonald and Newton counties.
- Ozark Telephone Company will connect nearly 7,000 people, 188 farms, 171 businesses, and six educational facilities to high-speed internet in McDonald County, Missouri and Benton County, Arkansas.
Today’s investments in Missouri are in coordination with the recent announcement made by U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, that highlights $714 million in USDA investments in 19 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. For more information, please view a full listing of projects.
Background: ReConnect Program
Applicants to ReConnect Program funding must serve a rural area that lacks access to service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload. Applicants must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service with speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in the proposed service area. Additionally, to ensure that rural households that need internet service can afford it, all awardees will be required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month towards internet service to qualifying low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands.
For assistance with or questions regarding any of USDA’s high-speed internet programs, please contact a Missouri General Field Representative.
Background: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
President Biden forged consensus and compromise between Democrats, Republicans and Independents to demonstrate our democracy can deliver big wins for the American people. After decades of talk on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden delivered the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and get America moving again.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. The legislation also lowers costs for internet service and helps close the digital divide, so that more Americans can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by internet access.
Contact USDA Rural Development
Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting www.rd.usda.gov/mo, by calling (573) 876-0976, or by emailing RDMissouri@usda.gov. Stay current by following @RD_Missouri on Twitter.
USDA Rural Development has 25 offices across the state to serve the 2.2 million residents living in rural Missouri. Office locations include a state office in Columbia, along with local offices in Butler, Charleston, Chillicothe, Clinton, Dexter, Eldon, Farmington, Higginsville, Houston, Kennett, Kirksville, Maryville, Mexico, Moberly, Neosho, New London, Poplar Bluff, Richmond, Rolla, Sedalia, Springfield, St. Joseph, Troy, and West Plains.
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