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Grant opportunities to increase internet service in rural areas

USDA is seeking applications from rural communities to increase internet capacity

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday about grant opportunities for underserved rural communities to apply for funding to increase access to E-Connectivity and Broadband.

“E-connectivity is essential to the economic vitality and quality of life in rural communities,” said Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett Hazlett. “Investing in broadband can strengthen rural economic growth and improve critical access to jobs, education, healthcare and social services.”

Applications will be accepted through May 14 in the Community Connect program. Grants range from $100,000 to $3 million for state and local governments, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits and for-profit organizations. A 15 percent match is required by applicants on the desired grant amount.

The funds must be used to provide broadband service at a minimum rate-of-data transmission of 25 megabits downstream and 3 megabits upstream, which is the speed benchmark that the Federal Communications Commission has officially adopted for broadband connectivity. Awardees must use USDA funding to 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 (PDF, 247 KB).

This grant is part of 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 established in 2017 by President Donald Trump.

Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

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