OPPORTUNITY: USDA offers new funding to Promote the Expansion of High-Speed Internet in Rural Areas

The USDA reports on funding for technical assistance to help rural communities get better broadband…

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of $20 million to deliver broadband technical assistance resources for rural communities, and to support the development and expansion of broadband cooperatives. USDA is offering the funding under the new Broadband Technical Assistance Program. The program supports technical assistance projects such as conducting feasibility studies, completing network designs and developing broadband financial assistance applications. Funding is also available to help organizations access federal resources, and to conduct data collection and reporting.  “USDA is committed to making sure that people, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet. That’s how you grow the economy – not just in rural communities, but across the nation,” said USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small. “USDA is partnering with small towns, local utilities and cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to this critical service which in turn boosts opportunity and helps build bright futures.”
This initiative is made possible through President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $65 billion to expand access and lower costs of high-speed internet.. This initiative has been designed to work in conjunction with other high-speed internet programs to meet President Biden’s goal to connect every community in America with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. Today’s announcement reflects the goals of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild the economy from the middle-out and bottom-up.

USDA encourages applicants to consider projects that will advance the following key priorities:

  • Assisting rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and through improved infrastructure;
  • Ensuring all rural residents have equitable access to USDA Rural Development (RD) programs and benefits from RD funded projects; and
  • Reducing climate pollution and increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities.

Applicants must choose one of the following funding categories:

  • Technical Assistance Providers: Applicants must propose to deliver broadband technical assistance that will benefit rural communities. Up to $7.5 million is available. The minimum award is $50,000. The maximum is $1 million.
  • Technical Assistance Recipients: Applicants must be the recipients of the broadband technical assistance. Up to $7.5 million is available. The minimum award is $50,000. The maximum is $250,000.
  • Projects Supporting Cooperatives: Applicants must propose projects that support the establishment or growth of broadband cooperatives that will benefit rural communities.  Up to $5 million is available. The minimum award is $50,000. The maximum is $1 million.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. 

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

 

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