United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad today announced more than $2 million to improve e-Connectivity in rural communities.
“Modern infrastructure for e-connectivity is no longer a luxury; it’s an essential part of economic growth,” Finstad said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, USDA is dedicated to expanding access to e-Connectivity in rural communities and ensuring continued rural prosperity.”
For example, Consolidated Telephone Company is receiving a $2.1 million loan to construct a fiber-to-the-home broadband system that will expand its high-speed service to 250 households, eight businesses and a community center in Todd County. As a result of this project, the community center, located within Moran Township Town Hall, will be able to provide free public access to two computer terminals and a public WiFi network. Additionally, this project will ensure previously underserved residents and businesses better access to improved economic, healthcare, and education e-Connectivity services.
Finstad’s announcement is in coordination with Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett’s recent announcement that USDA is investing $91 million through its Telecommunications Programs to improve e-Connectivity services in 12 states: Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. The 19 projects will benefit more than 27,000 businesses and households.
According to a 2018 report by the Federal Communications Commission, 80 percent of the 24 million American households who lack reliable, affordable, high-speed internet are in rural areas. USDA’s investments in broadband infrastructure are helping transform rural America, providing innovation and technology to increase economic competitiveness and opportunities.
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.