|Apr 01, 2011 --
Outline Of Need:
Northeast Missouri has a declining population, has lost jobs, and suffers from a steep economic decline. The major county in the area lost 23% of its non-farm jobs in the last eight years. The area is 100% rural, and broadband access is limited.
How Rural Development Helped:
Ralls County Electric Cooperative (RCEC) a member -owned, non-profit cooperative, was awarded $19,097,817 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds by USD Rural Development. This funding consisted of a $9,548,908 grant and a $9,548,909 low-interest loan. The funding will provide broadband services to residential and commercial members of the RCEC.
The RCEC will install approximately 1,218 miles of high-speed, fiber optic cable resulting in broadband service to the nearly 5,000 rural residents, businesses, and organizations. Pulse Broadband, the contractor, started installation in the fall of 2010 with a projected completion in approximately 24 months.
Since construction has started, over 80 jobs have been created for installing the fiber optic cable. It is anticipated during the peak summer months of 2011 another 40 jobs will be added. In the long term 6-10 additional high tech and administrative personnel will be needed to support the customers. Access to high speed internet activity will allow for more home businesses, migration of some businesses to the area to utilize the 9% unemployed labor force, and some of the 1,200 Cannon Dam Lake residents will make lake homes permanent due to connectivity to friends, family and the global economy.
RCEC has also committed to dedicate 10% of the free cash flow from the broadband operations for local economic development loans and grants. This funding stream will provide another financing option for entrepreneurs and small businesses for the area.