$22.5M investment will connect 20,000 rural Michigan residents

Michigan

Credit: Michigan State University’s Quello Center “Broadband and Student Performance Gap” Report

WASHINGTON (WLNS) – A federal investment of $22.5 million will provide broadband service to rural areas of Michigan.

Barry County Services Company received a loan and grant combination of $11.8 million to extend broadband availability to 17 farms, 16 businesses and 12,000 residents spread over 127 square miles.

Southwest Michigan Communications Inc. will extend services to Van Buren and Allegan counties with a $10.7 million loan and grant combination. The 100 square mile project makes broadband available for 22 farms, 19 businesses and 7,700 residents.

“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue during a virtual press conference today.

The funding is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Pilot Program. These investments are the first round of investments to unserved and underserved rural areas.

The USDA received 11 round two ReConnect Program applications that are eligible for the $100 million Congress allocated to the program through the CARES Act.

The applications are being reviewed and approved projects will be announced on a rolling basis.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities including infrastructure improvements, business development, public safety, community facilities, and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

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