MOUNT MORIAH, Mo., Aug. 31, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Administrator of Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Andrew Berke, alongside state and local officials, and high-speed internet stakeholders today visited the cities of Mount Moriah and Princeton, to celebrate the first groundbreaking of projects funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law under the Department’s ReConnect Program.
“With historic funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, high speed internet is bringing a better quality of life and more economic development to communities throughout our country,” Berke said. “Because of the progress in Northwest Missouri symbolized by today’s event, along with several more projects getting underway across the state, USDA is helping communities build a stronger and more resilient rural America.”
To help Grand River Mutual Telephone Corp. (GRM) kick off their Fiber Field Day, RUS Administrator Berke highlighted the importance that investing in high-speed internet connectivity has in narrowing the digital divide between rural America and the rest of the world. In an effort to provide an exclusive opportunity for policy makers, industry partners and other stakeholders to see firsthand how GRM is bringing fiber infrastructure for high-speed internet to northern Missouri and southern Iowa, the opening ceremony was followed by a visual fiber and splicing demonstration and a trip out to tour the network access facility.
A town hall, in Princeton after the groundbreaking, brought together subject matter experts to further discuss the importance of high-speed internet in rural America, and the impact that GRM Network’s efforts to bring fiber infrastructure for telehealth, distance education, economic development, and precision agriculture have for rural Missourians.
“It speaks volumes to the importance of these infrastructure needs to have Administrator Berke here, on the ground, recognizing this historical step towards creating new opportunities for this area of the state through high-speed connectivity," Rural Development State Director for Missouri Kyle Wilkens said. “We are excited to have him here in Missouri, hearing directly from the source as to the positive impact this will have on rural Missourians.”
Funding for the investment breaking ground today is in partnership with a $15.7 million grant through USDA’s ReConnect Program and President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding is allowing GRM Network to deploy a fiber-to-the home network to connect 3,107 people, 521 farms, 59 businesses and nine educational facilities to high-speed internet in Daviess, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Livingston, Mercer and Nodaway counties in Missouri. High-speed internet will be made affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.
ReConnect investments reflect one of the many ways that USDA Rural Development’s programs can help rural areas address the unique needs of their individual and surrounding communities to help rural America build back resiliency.
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.
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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