USDA Announces Two Recovery Act Broadband Projects to Bring Jobs, Economic Opportunity to Rural Virginians
WEBER CITY, Va., Sept. 7, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the funding of two broadband infrastructure projects that will create jobs and provide rural residents in southwestern Virginia access to improved service. The projects are funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). USDA Deputy Administrator for Rural Utilities Programs Jessica Zufolo made the announcement on behalf of Secretary Vilsack.
"The broadband projects announced today will give rural Virginians access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America provides a gateway for businesses and key anchor institutions – such as libraries, schools, public safety and community centers – to provide services to thousands of Americans. These projects will create jobs building these networks, and the completed systems will provide a platform for rural economic growth for years to come. These projects will trigger additional investment in some of the most remote communities in rural Appalachia."
In all, $45 million will be invested in the two broadband infrastructure projects with funding made available through the Recovery Act. Broadband access plays a critical role in expanding economic, health care, educational and public safety services in underserved rural communities. Today's announcement is part of the second round of USDA broadband funding through the Recovery Act.
By leveraging Recovery Act funding authorized by Congress, USDA has been able to provide loans and grants of $3.1 billion to construct 265 broadband infrastructure and satellite projects in 46 states and one territory. The remaining authorized funds will allow an additional $500 million in loans and grants by September 30, 2010. The Recovery Act provided USDA with a total of $2.5 billion to invest in expanding broadband access to rural America.
Secretary Vilsack said the Scott County Telephone Cooperative will receive a $7.45 million loan and a $17.4 million grant to deploy Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) infrastructure to bring advanced broadband service to the rural communities of southwest Virginia. This project will provide broadband access to about12,000 residents, 80 businesses and 16 community institutions. The company estimates this project will save or create approximately 150 jobs.
The Lenowisco Planning District Commission will receive a $6.06 million loan and a $14.16 million grant to build a fiber-optic network to one of the most economically challenged regions of Virginia. Over 42,000 residents will be given broadband access, along with an estimated 1,550 businesses and 100 community institutions. The company estimates this project will save or create approximately 70 jobs.
According to analysis released by the National Economic Council last year, overall Recovery Act investments in broadband are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand economic development and job opportunities in communities that would otherwise be left behind in the new knowledge-based economy. Recovery Act broadband projects help bring down the cost of private investment, attract Internet service providers to new areas, improve digital literacy among students and workers, and help create new opportunities in employment, education, and entrepreneurship by wiring homes and businesses. With new or increased broadband access, communities can compete on a level playing field to attract new businesses, schools can create distance learning opportunities, medical professionals can provide cost-efficient remote diagnoses and care, and business owners can expand the market for their products beyond their neighborhoods to better compete in the global economy.
President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law last year. 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. Funding of the projects is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).