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Release No. 0463.10
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Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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USDA Announces Recovery Act Broadband Project to Bring Jobs, Economic Opportunity to Rural North Dakota and Minnesota

FARGO, North Dakota, Sept. 13, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the funding of a new Recovery Act broadband infrastructure project that will create jobs and provide rural residents in southwestern North Dakota, and Minnesota access to improved service. 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.

"This project will give residents of rural North Dakota and Minnesota 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."

In all, just over $9 million in Recovery Act funding will be invested by USDA in this broadband infrastructure. Approximately $1 million in outside capital will bring total project funding to more than $10 million.

The award will allow Red River Rural Telephone Association, Inc. to offer Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband service through a 690 mile network of fiber-optic cable. Exchanges in Ransom, Richland, and Sargent Counties in North Dakota will be served, as well as Wilkin County in Minnesota, and Roberts and Marshall Counties in South Dakota. An estimated 2,600 residents, 200 businesses and six community institutions will benefit. The company says that 110 jobs will be created as a result of the funding decision. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

By leveraging $2.5 billion in 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.

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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