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USDA Invests in the Expansion of Rural Education and Health Care Access

Stephanie Bittiker
Release Date

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Investments will benefit 5.4 Million Rural Residents in 37 States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

   WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2019 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that USDA is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories. USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. These investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents.

   “Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” LaVoy said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their quality of life, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

   USDA is announcing investments today in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

   Below are projects announced in South Carolina today:

• Caresouth Carolina, Inc. is receiving a $321,016 grant to deploy interactive video conferencing equipment.   CSC will establish a hub site in Lee County and serve 14 end-user schools in Chesterfield, Lee, and Marlboro counties.   This project will build on an existing telemedicine network. 
• Northeastern Technical College is receiving two grants.  The first is a $499,994 grant to This Rural Development investment will allow the Northeast Technical College in South Carolina to implement an emergency services expansion project. The project will serve 350 first responders in ten fire and rescue departments located in Chesterfield, Dillon and Marlboro counties.  Courses will be provided to students in Dillon A-Tech school, Marlboro County High School and Central High School.   This project increases rural access to improved educational opportunities, benefiting up to 20,030 residents including first responders.  The second grant is $499,997 and will enable Northeast Technical College to implement a distance learning project.  Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based technical training will be provided to students at Dillon Inland Port.  Distance learning equipment will be placed in Chesterfield, Dillon and Marlboro counties. Improved educational opportunities will be provided to an estimated 2,212 rural residents.

   Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most State and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.

   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. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone 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/sc.


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