U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that USDA is investing $152 million in 20 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,” LaVoy said. “President Trump and Agriculture Secretary 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 and 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.
ClearFiber Inc. will use a $1,960,000 Community Connect Grant to construct a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to 2,308 households in portions of Monongalia and Marion counties in W.Va.They will construct a broadband network in an area with no access or limited access to the internet. This new broadband network will support service at levels up to 1 Gbps for each subscriber. This project will provide community members improved access to public safety, education and health care services.
Preston County Economic Development Authority will use a $3 million Community Connect Grant to construct an 83.4-mile Fiber to-the-Premises (FTTP) network in northern Preston County, W.Va. The proposed area has a population of 3,545 and the system passes 1,337 households. The service area includes the towns of Clifton Mills, Hazelton, Lenox and Cuzzart. This network will provide broadband speeds starting at 25 Mbps and going up to 2 Gbps. This project will provide broadband service that fosters economic growth and delivers enhanced educational, health care and public safety services to rural customers. A community center will be provided where residents can access the internet free of charge for at least two years.
Speaking of the projects, USDA Rural Development West Virginia State Director Kris Warner said, “Broadband is an essential tool for businesses, residents and public institutions to be competitive and prosperous in a 21st century, global economy.” Mr. Warner went on to say, “Investing in broadband creates jobs when projects are built, adds jobs when these projects become operational, and adds jobs as broadband services are used by communities.”
The projects USDA is investing in today 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, 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 cornerstone 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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.