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A Uniquely Alaskan Solution to Bring Broadband to an Isolated Gulf Community

Imagine building a broadband network where there are no roads to move supplies, or electrical grids to power cellular towers. Yakutat is an isolated community of about 650 tucked into a sheltered bay off the Gulf of Alaska, disconnected from the road system, and hundreds of miles from Alaska population centers. Like many remote Alaskan villages, most residents in Yakutat adopt a subsistence form of living, depending heavily off the land and sea to survive. For Yakutat, which has a substantial Alaska Native population and struggles with a fifteen percent poverty rate, modern conveniences like fast internet are unavailable.

Farming in the 21st Century Requires Being Connected

As you step onto Bebb Farms in rural Labette County, Kan., you see tractors, combines, sprayers, grain bins, and semis. All necessary equipment on a Kansas farm, but perhaps the most important equipment you don’t see is the Internet.

Connecting South Dakota’s Rural Communities to Opportunities in Business, Education, Health Care and Beyond

In early December, I had the privilege of announcing a USDA Rural Development ReConnect Pilot Program investment of more than $9.5 million to Valley Telecommunications Cooperative Association, Inc. dba Valley FiberCom in Flandreau, South Dakota. This investment will help Valley deploy high-speed broadband internet e-Connectivity to more than 1,750 rural households, 27 farms, 17 businesses and one critical community facility.

Why Reconnecting Our Rural Communities Matters

You may be reading this blog entry from your desk workstation, or perhaps a laptop in a coffee shop. You might even be perusing this on your smartphone. It’s a common, everyday occurrence that can easily be taken for granted. Unfortunately, in many parts of rural South Carolina – it’s not only a luxury to have broadband internet access, it’s not even possible!

A High-Speed Boost for Rural Tennessee

If you’ve ever had to travel to get access to the internet – whether to a library or a restaurant in a nearby town, or any other community resource that has that critical connection to the world of information – you understand the excitement we have here in Tennessee as the first state to announce a project funded through USDA’s ReConnect rural broadband infrastructure program.

Reflecting on One Year of Innovation at Rural Development

Last year, Secretary Perdue created the Rural Development Innovation Center, a team devoted to partnership development, regulatory reform, data analysis, and risk management. With a mission of coordinating resources and providing creative solutions for our rural customer, the Innovation Center is designed to hard wire innovation into our program delivery. In recognition of the Innovation Center’s first anniversary, I’d like to share a few reflections on a year of transformation in Rural Development through innovation.

e-Connectivity: A Foundation for Rural Prosperity

In small towns from Maine to California, access to reliable, high-speed internet is a foundation for rural prosperity. From quality health care to advanced education and precision ag technology at the local farm equipment dealer, e-connectivity is a lifeline to the modern economy. And, yet we know that a significant number of rural Americans are not connected.

USDA’s Economic Research Service and The Farm Foundation Collaborate on Rural Infrastructure Investment Research

The mission of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food and rural America and produces objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making. Among its research activities, ERS is conducting research on the impacts of and returns to infrastructure in rural areas, and is cosponsoring a workshop with the Farm Foundation on these issues.