New e-Connectivity Opportunities to be Provided to Rural Businesses, Farms and Residents
WASHINGTON, May 12, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA is investing $3.3 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in South Dakota. This investment is part of USDA’s round one investments through the ReConnect Pilot Program.
“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” said Secretary Perdue. “I am so proud of our rural communities that have been working day in and day out, just like they always do, producing the food and fiber America depends on. We need them more than ever during these trying times, and expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.”
USDA is providing a $3.3 million grant to help SDN Communications deploy fixed wireless broadband in rural areas of Pennington and Lawrence counties in South Dakota. This service area extends across 13 square miles and will provide broadband access to 275 people, 14 businesses and two farms.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations.
On April 20, 2020, USDA announce the Department has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in round two of the ReConnect Program. The second round will enable USDA to implement innovative new solutions to rural connectivity by leveraging financial options with our partners and continue the success of the first round of funding. The application window for round two closed April 15.
USDA received 11 round two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.
To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.
USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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