USDA Seeks Applications for Funding to Increase Access to E-Connectivity/Broadband in Unserved Rural Areas

(802) 828-6080

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved rural communities through the Community Connect Program. Rural Development has additional loan and loan guarantee financing available for rural broadband the Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantee Program through the end of the fiscal year.

“E-connectivity is essential to the economic vitality and quality of life in rural communities,” Hazlett said. “Investing in broadband can strengthen rural economic growth and improve critical access to jobs, education, health care and social services.”

Community Connect

USDA is accepting applications through May 14 in the Community Connect program. Grants from $100,000 to $3 million are available to state and local governments, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits and for-profit corporations. Applicants must be able to provide a 15 percent match on the desired grant amount.          

The funds must be used to provide broadband service at a minimum rate-of-data transmission of 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream, which is the speed benchmark that the Federal Communications Commission has officially adopted for broadband connectivity. Awardees must use USDA funding to offer free broadband service to all critical community facilities in their proposed service areas for two years and provide a community center with free broadband service for two years.

For more details on this grant opportunity, see page 11494 of the March 15 Federal Register. Rural Development will host two webinars regarding the environmental requirements for application on April 5 from 2:00-3:00 pm and April 10 from 1:00-2:00 pm. For more information and to register, visit Rural Development’s website.  

Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees

            USDA is accepting applications through September 30 for the Rural Broadband Program. Non-profit, for-profit, cooperative and government entities may apply for financing to construct, improve and acquire facilities or equipment that will provide broadband services to eligible rural areas. Loan amounts range from $100,000 to $25,000,000.

            Applications will be processed on a first come, first serve basis and ranked based on the percentage of unserved households that the applicant proposes to serve. Applications can be submitted online through RD Apply. For more details on this application process, see page 13225 of the March 28 Federal Register.

            Interested applicants can reach out to USDA Rural Development’s northeast General Field Representative Kenrick Gordon at kenrick.gordon@wdc.usda.gov or (717) 433-8998 or to Community Loan Specialist Eric Law at eric.law@vt.usda.gov or (802) 828-6033.

About USDA Rural Development

            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 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.

Last Modified: 04/02/2018