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News Release
  Release No. 0462.10
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Bart Kendrick (202) 720-0698

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  USDA Announces Recovery Act Broadband Projects to Bring Jobs, Economic Opportunity to Rural Residents of South Carolina
 

CHARLESTON, S.C., Sept. 13, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of two broadband projects that will create construction jobs and provide rural residents in South Carolina access to improved Internet service. Today's announcement is part of the second round of USDA broadband funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). USDA Rural Business Service Administrator Judith Canales made the announcement on Vilsack's behalf at a South Carolina Association of Community Development Associations conference.

"These projects will give residents of rural South Carolina the tools they need to attract new businesses, create jobs, and obtain access to improved health care and educational opportunities," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural America provides a gateway for businesses development and long term job creation. These projects will create construction jobs and the completed system will provide a platform for rural economic growth for years to come."

One award will allow Orangeburg County to offer technology to residents in the communities of Rowesville, Canaan, Homestead, Bethel Forest, McAlhany, Pea Ridge, Lambrick, Sixty Six and Cattle Creek. The project will cover 278 square miles. About 9,000 residents will be served along with 90 businesses and 12 community institutions. The company estimates 70 jobs will be directly created.

Windstream Corporation operating throughout South Carolina, will offer broadband service to the communities of Cameron, Fort Motte-Lone Star, Highland, Kershaw, Landrun, Lexington, Mount Pisgah, North, Orangeburg, Sandy Run-Staley, St. Matthews, and Westville. Almost 9,000 residents will be served, along with about 300 businesses and 40 community institutions. The project is estimated by the company to create 40 jobs.

In all, $21 million will be invested in the two broadband projects with funding made available through the Recovery Act. An additional $1.3 million will be invested from private sources. By leveraging Recovery Act funding authorized by Congress, USDA has been able to provide loans and grants of $3.6 billion to construct 307 broadband infrastructure and satellite projects in 46 states and one territory. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

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.

More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery. More information about the Federal government's efforts on the Recovery Act is available at http://www.recovery.gov/.

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.

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