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USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein has announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to provide broadband access in rural communities currently without broadband service. Joining him to make the announcement was Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“As President Obama has said, ‘Students should graduate from high school prepared for college and a career – no matter who you are or where you come from’ – and this program connects school children to educational opportunities via the Internet in some of America’s most remote locations,” Adelstein said. “It also enhances commerce, public safety, and health care in rural areas that have been overlooked by modern communications technology. Broadband is an important part of the Obama Administration’s effort to help rural America ‘win the future.’”
“The industries and jobs of the future will be increasingly reliant upon our ability to move people, goods and information,” said Chopra. “So if we want new jobs and businesses here in America, especially in our most rural communities, we’ve got to have a robust digital infrastructure as supported by investments through programs like Community Connect.”
Grants are available to communities in the most rural, economically challenged areas with limited resources, according to Tom Fern, Kentucky State Director for Rural Development. These grants will assist those communities in meeting their infrastructure needs with regard to broadband access.
Funds may be used to construct, acquire or lease facilities to deploy broadband to residents, businesses and essential community facilities such as police and fire stations, libraries, schools, and health care clinics. Funding is provided through the Community Connect Grant program.
Eligible entities are incorporated organizations, Tribes and tribal organizations, state and local government bodies, for-profit or non-profit cooperatives, private corporations and limited liability corporations. Individuals are not eligible to apply. Grants range from $50,000 to $1.5 million. While grants cannot be renewed, applications to extend existing projects are welcome.
Each project requires matching contributions, must serve a rural area where broadband service does not exist, must provide services to critical communities free of charge for two years, and must offer basic service to all premises within the proposed service area. To learn more about this program, visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/STELPRD4007349.html.
Information on available funding and application requirements are published on page 12017 of the March 4, 2011, Federal Register.
More information on Community Connect Grants, including the application guide, can be viewed and downloaded from the USDA Rural Development website.