USDA announces $502M for high-speed internet in rural communities, including Freeborn County – Albert Lea Tribune

US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday that the department is providing $502 million in loans and grants to provide high-speed internet access to rural residents and businesses in 20 states.

The funding is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to invest in rural infrastructure and provide reliable and affordable high-speed internet for all, according to a press release. The USDA is making the investments under the third round of funding for the ReConnect program. The department will make additional investments for rural broadband internet in the coming months, including funding Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which provides a landmark $65 billion investment to expand broadband internet. affordable throughput to all communities in the United States. The announcement includes an investment of $25.11. million through the Winnebago Cooperative Telephone Association to deploy fiber-to-the-home network in Freeborn County. This network will connect 3,597 people, 80 businesses and 458 farms to high-speed internet. Half of the scholarship will be in the form of a loan and the other half in the form of a grant.

“President Biden’s commitment to bringing high-speed internet to rural communities is fundamental to ensuring that the national economy continues to grow from the bottom up and down the middle,” Vilsack said. “High-speed Internet will improve the rural economy. It will help rural businesses grow and access new markets. It will help rural residents gain access to more and better health care and educational opportunities. The USDA knows that rural America is America’s backbone, and prosperity here means prosperity for everyone.

USDA awards 32 awards in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming . Many awards will help rural people and businesses on tribal lands and people from socially vulnerable communities.

The USDA has so far announced $858 million in ReConnect’s third round of funding and expects to make further investment announcements under this program in the coming weeks. Thursday’s announcement follows the Department’s July 28 announcement that it has invested $356 million through the ReConnect program to help very rural residents and businesses in 11 states get high-speed Internet access.

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