Secretary Perdue Announces e-Connectivity Grant for Rural Alabama

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Secretary Perdue Announces e-Connectivity Grant for Rural Alabama

(Brilliant, Ala., May 3, 2018) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced USDA is awarding a $2.9 million grant to the Tombigbee Electric Cooperative to bring e-Connectivity to rural Marion County, Alabama.

“In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of rural electrification and what it meant to people in those communities. FDR said it was ‘a modern necessity of life, not a luxury. That necessity ought to be found in every village, in every house, and on every farm in every part of the United States.’ Though he was talking about electricity, the same can be said for broadband Internet access today. To compete in today’s global marketplace, we must remove the infrastructure gaps in rural communities,” Secretary Perdue said. “This grant is in keeping with President Trump’s directive that we use all available tools to increase prosperity in rural America. As we pursue economic expansion, we recognize that broadband e-Connectivity is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.”

Tombigbee Electric Cooperative will use a USDA Community Connect Grant to deploy a Fiber-to-the-Premises network in the community of Brilliant and in surrounding areas of Marion County, Ala. This project will connect nearly 500 households to high-speed broadband as well as businesses and essential community services in the area. In addition, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative will establish a community center within the service area where residents can access the internet free of charge.

USDA’s Community Connect Grant Program provides grants to bring high-speed e-Connectivity to rural communities where there is not yet a business case for private providers to deliver service.

USDA is accepting applications through May 14 in the longstanding Community Connect program that has been in existence since 2002. Grants from $100,000 to $3 million are available to state and local governments, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits and for-profit corporations.

The funds must be used to provide broadband service at a minimum bandwidth of 25 megabits downstream and three megabits upstream, which are the benchmark speeds the Federal Communications Commission has adopted for broadband connectivity. Awardees must offer free broadband service to all critical community facilities in their proposed service areas for two years and provide a community center with free broadband service for two years.

For more details on this grant opportunity, see page 11494 of the March 15 Federal Register.

Modern infrastructure is a necessity – not an amenity – for any community to thrive. Infrastructure is a foundation to provide a high quality of life and economic opportunities. USDA is proud to partner with local rural communities to help address their infrastructure needs.

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 is a key 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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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