Loan-Only Applications Still Being Accepted
Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley this week announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development received 53 applications requesting more than $635 million in loan-grant combination funding in the first round of the ReConnect Pilot Program. USDA made $200 million available for loan-grant combination projects in the first round of funding.
The 53 applications received represent 1,099 farms and 859 businesses in rural areas across 33 states. In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America, and on December 13, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the rules of the program. On March 29, 2019, USDA began accepting applications.
For this first round, USDA made available up to $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations, and $200 million in low-interest loans. The loan application deadlines still remains:
- July 12, 2019, for low-interest loans.
Applicants can request technical assistance from USDA by filling out the contact form at https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/contact-us.
State and local governments, Native American tribes, for- and non-profit entities, limited liability companies, and cooperative or mutual organizations may apply for funding through USDA’s ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. Funds will be awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches and community facilities, such as first responders, health care sites and schools.
The ReConnect Program enables USDA to create and implement innovative solutions to rural connectivity by providing various financial options to our partners and customers. For the announcement opening the application windows, see the Federal Register at Vol. 84 Fed. Reg. 5981 (Feb. 25, 2019), and for the first round Reconnect Program requirements, see the Federal Register at Vol. 83 Fed. Reg. 64315 (Dec. 14, 2018), or visit reconnect.usda.gov. Information for future rounds will also be published in the Federal Register. Congress has provided an additional $550 million for the ReConnect Program.