U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the availability of a second round of $550 million in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ReConnect Pilot Program funding appropriated by Congress. The application window for this round of funding is set to open Jan. 31, 2020.
“This second round of ReConnect funding will help USDA be an even stronger partner in closing the digital divide in America’s rural communities,” Secretary Perdue said. “Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America. We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. Under the leadership of President Trump and in cooperation with Congressional appropriators, USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Second Round Highlights:
USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020.
A full description of 2020 ReConnect Pilot Program funding is available on page 67913 of the Dec. 12, 2019, Federal Register (PDF, 336 KB). To learn more about eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. To date, USDA has awarded $191 million through the ReConnect program, including $5.1 million to providers Emery Telcom and Beehive Telephone Company, servicing rural Utah and western Colorado. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.
These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.
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/ut.