Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights Rural Broadband Project in Ohio Funded Through the Recovery Act | USDA Newsroom
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News Release

Release No. 0626.09
Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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WASHINGTON, December 22, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted the newly announced Recovery Act Broadband Infrastructure project in Ohio that will receive a grant worth $1 million and a loan worth nearly $1.4 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Vice President Joseph Biden announced on December 17 during an event in Georgia that this project is among the first wave of broadband Recovery Act projects to be funded. Congress provided $2.5 billion in Recovery Act funding to USDA to help bring broadband services to rural un-served and underserved communities.

"As we work to chart a stronger future for our rural communities, broadband infrastructure will play an important role in creating new economic opportunities and help put more people to work," said Vilsack. "The broadband funding we are providing will bridge the digital divide in areas of the country that have been historically underserved, while strengthening local and regional schools, businesses and healthcare institutions."

USDA is providing the Consolidated Electric Cooperative with a grant worth $1 million and a loan worth nearly $1.4 million. These funds - which are being matched by $1.2 million from the company - will fund construction of a 166-mile 'middle-mile' network that will bring major city connectivity into underserved areas of Northern Delaware County, Morrow County and the western portions of Knox and Licking Counties.

Consolidated will construct a fiber-optic, middle-mile network capable of delivering affordable, high-quality broadband access to 38,000 households, businesses and anchor institutions in rural Ohio.

"This project is about creating jobs for Ohio families and opportunities for Ohio businesses," Senator Sherrod Brown said. "It will help our small towns compete successfully in new markets. Expanding broadband is critical to ensuring the prosperity and continued legacy of all our state's communities."

Broadband is a vital piece of infrastructure needed to support long-term economic growth in our region," said Congressman Zack Space. "Investing in this technology has the potential to attract businesses and jumpstart the economy of Southeastern and Central Ohio. I am encouraged to see that the Secretary is making such an important and serious commitment to bringing broadband technology to our rural areas."

Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15) said, "Broadband Internet access will help create jobs in the long and short term, foster growth of our local small businesses, and help children in more rural school districts to gain access to learning tools that enable them to be successful. Broadband Internet access is an effective tool in the fight to turn around our economy."

"I am grateful to Secretary Vilsack and President Obama for providing stimulus funds for broadband development," Governor Ted Strickland said. "These funds will allow Consolidated Electric Cooperative to play a key role in bridging the digital divide in the North Central Ohio area and support economic growth in the region."

The awards are designed to help underserved - and often hard-hit - communities overcome the distance and technology barrier by expanding connectivity between educational institutions, enabling remote medical consultations and attracting new businesses - as well as the jobs that come with them. They are part of an over $100 billion investment in science, technology and innovation the Administration is making through the Recovery Act to lay a new foundation for economic growth.

Funding of the individual recipient is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts is available at . More information about the Federal government's efforts on the Recovery Act is available at .


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