Des Moines, IA (STL.News) The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it is investing $24 million to provide broadband internet in rural communities across the state of Iowa. The investment is part of the ReConnect Program.
“Improving broadband internet access will help Iowa communities thrive, and this federal investment builds on efforts we have underway through my empower rural Iowa initiative,” said Gov. Reynolds. “By leveraging state, federal, and private resources, we can open the door for greater innovation and breakthroughs, setting the stage for future economic growth in all corners of Iowa. I appreciate President Trump and his Administration for being a partner in our efforts to invest in rural Iowa.”
In December of 2018, USDA announced the “ReConnect Program” which will support broadband with $600 Million in grants and loans for unserved rural areas that do not currently have sufficient access to broadband. To be eligible for the ReConnect Program, applicants must provide broadband service to eligible rural areas with a population of 20,000 or fewer.
These Iowa companies have received the following support through the ReConnect Program:
- Farmers Mutual Cooperative Telephone Company of Moulton – $4.9 million ReConnect grant and a $4.9 million ReConnect loan
- Farmers Mutual Telephone Company of Stanton – a $2.3 million ReConnect grant and a $2.3 million ReConnect loan
- Harmony Telephone Company will use a $4.8 million ReConnect grant and a $4.8 million ReConnect loan
In 2019, Governor Reynolds signed the Empower Rural Iowa Act as part of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Intiative, providing support to ensure vibrant rural communities today and for generations to come. The Connecting Rural Iowa task force was charged with expanding broadband access will support high-tech jobs, precision agriculture, quality education, local economies and the limitless opportunities connectivity makes possible. In 2020, Gov. Reynolds secured $15 million in total funding to optimize the existing Broadband Grant Program, a $10 million increase from the previous year.