Jackson County Rural Electric Membership Corp. will use a $1.9 million loan and a $1.9 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 4,881 people, 198 farms and 36 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Jackson County and eastern Lawrence County.

“I’m so glad to see this investment in infrastructure in my home state of Indiana,” USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney said in making the announcement Tuesday. “In my conversations with our overseas trading partners, we often speak about the important role of innovation to global agriculture. But innovation depends on access to reliable, high-speed internet. I’m hopeful that investments such as ReConnect can help farmers operate more effectively and efficiently to deliver their products to those across Indiana — and indeed, across the world.”

In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the rules of the program, called ReConnect, including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America.

On April 20, 2020, USDA announced it has received 172 applications for $1.57 billion in Round Two of the ReConnect Program. The second round will enable USDA to implement innovative new solutions to rural connectivity by leveraging financial options with our partners and continuing the success of the first round of funding. The application window for Round Two closed on April 15.

In Round One of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $698 million to bring high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 33 states. To learn more about individual investments, read USDA’s Broadband ReConnect Program report.

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

To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.

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 facilities 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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