On October 6, 2020 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) invested nearly $4 million to help revitalize farming communities in Indiana by providing broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas.
This investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program. As documented in the new (2020) book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, boosting connectivity—both within a community and with the outside world—is a key component of many successful community revitalization programs.
As originally announced here in REVITALIZATION, in March of 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.
“I’m so glad to see this investment in infrastructure in my home state of Indiana,” said USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney.
“In my conversations with our overseas trading partners, we often speak about the important role of innovation to global agriculture. But innovation depends on access to reliable, high-speed internet. I’m hopeful that investments such as ReConnect can help farmers operate more effectively and efficiently to deliver their products to those across Indiana – and, indeed, across the world,” he added.
Jackson County Rural Electric Membership Corporation will use a $1.9 million loan and a $1.9 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 4881 people, 198 farms and 36 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Indiana’s Jackson and Lawrence counties.
On April 20, 2020, USDA announced 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 continuing the success of the first round of funding. The application window for Round Two closed on April 15.
In Round One of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $698 million to bring high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 33 states.
USDA received 11 Round Two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.