USDA Opens Application Portal for New ReConnect Rural Broadband Infrastructure Program
As State Director of USDA Rural Development in Colorado, I encourage everyone interested in bringing broadband to your rural communities to apply for this great pilot program. I recently attended one of the ReConnect workshops in Junction City, Kansas and was impressed by the magnitude of the work that has gone into this program. Today, a detailed application guide was published online and the application window is now open. The first deadline is right around the corner on May 31, 2019, so please get started early. As always if there is anything that my staff or I can do to assist you please let me know.
USDA Rural Development State Director
WASHINGTON, April 23, 2019 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting online applications for funding through the new ReConnect Rural Broadband Pilot Program. These funds will enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second download and 1 megabit per second upload. Beginning today, ReConnect funding applications can be submitted at reconnect.usda.gov.
“Reliable, high-speed broadband internet e-Connectivity is critical for economic prosperity and quality of life in the 21st century, from education to health care to agriculture to manufacturing and beyond,” Secretary Perdue said. “We at USDA are very excited to begin accepting applications for funds from this new and innovative program, which will bring critical infrastructure investments to homes, farms, ranches, schools and health care sites in rural America.”
Congress first appropriated funds for the new Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program, known as ReConnect, in 2018. The program will be a proof-of-concept, enabling USDA to create and implement innovative options for rural connectivity by providing various financial packages to our customers.
In this first round of funding, USDA is making available at least $600 million in rural broadband projects, through $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations, and $200 million in low-interest loans. The application deadlines for each of these funding packages are as follows:
- May 31, 2019, for projects seeking federal funds from the grants-only package;
- June 21, 2019, for projects seeking a combination of federal loans and grants; and
- July 12, 2019, for projects seeking low-interest federal loans.
This $600 million appropriation from Congress more than doubles federal funding available through USDA’s longstanding broadband programs. Future rounds of funding for ReConnect will be announced later this year.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure, including rural broadband infrastructure, is a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
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.
Inside the USDA ReConnect Program with special guests USDA Rural Development Colorado State Director Sallie Clark & Laurel Leverrier from Rural Utilities Service
The BARN – Briggsdale, CO – April 17, 2019 – USDA Rural Development Colorado State Director Sallie Clark is in Junction City, Kansas attending a session on the USDA ReConnect Program, a pilot program to expand broadband service to rural areas without sufficient broadband access, defined as 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. Learning about the Grants, loans, and loan/grant combinations that are available to rural areas of the nation including Colorado…Joining the conversation is Laurel Leverrier from the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service…
REALTED PRESS RELEASE
USDA Announces Opening Date for Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program Applications
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2019 – Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today announced that USDA Rural Development will begin accepting the first round of applications for the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program) on April 23, 2019, through reconnect.usda.gov.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On December 13, Agriculture Secretary Sonny 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 is making available up to $200 million in grants, $200 million in loan and grant combinations, and $200 million in low-interest loans.
The application deadlines are:
- May 31, 2019, for grants;
- June 21, 2019, for loan/grant combinations; and
- July 12, 2019, for low-interest loans.
Applicants can request technical assistance from USDA by filling out the contact form at https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/contact-us.
Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. Funds will be awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches and community facilities such as first responders, health care sites and schools.
The ReConnect Program enables USDA to create and implement innovative solutions to rural connectivity by providing various financial options to our partners and customers. For additional information, see page 5981 of the Feb. 25, 2019, Federal Register and page 64315 of the Dec. 14, 2018, Federal Register or visit reconnect.usda.gov.
If you would like to learn more about the USDA ReConnect Program visit https://www.usda.gov/reconnect
If you would like to learn more about the USDA Rural Development or the USDA Rural Utilities Service visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/