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News Release

Release No. 0496.10
Contact:
Bart Kendrick (202) 720-0698

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USDA Announces Recovery Act Broadband Project to Bring Jobs, Economic Opportunity to Northern Mississippi

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 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 northern Mississippi 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.

"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," said Vilsack. "This project will create jobs by building the network and the completed system will provide a platform for rural economic growth and job creation for years to come."

In all, approximately $2.63 million in Recovery Act funding will be invested by USDA in the infrastructure broadband project.

This $2.63 million award will allow The Digital Bridge Corporation to bring affordable, fourth-generation broadband services to rural portions of Panola and Quitman Counties lacking high-speed access. The network stands to benefit approximately 18,200 people, more than 1,300 businesses, and 87 community institutions where 74 percent of the premises are without high-speed access. The project will cover 191 square miles. In addition to the six jobs created or retained, the company estimates this project will create, it will provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation for decades to come.

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 Washington, D.C., and 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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