Washington, DC, Sep 19, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today announced loans to help finance the construction of broadband networks in rural Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and South Dakota. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“Rural Americans need full access high-speed telecommunications services,” Vilsack said. “Broadband allows rural communities to tap into critical health care and social services systems. It also helps even the playing field in education, and gives small-town businesses a chance to compete globally. As part of the Obama Administration’s goal to improve infrastructure, we will continue to fund projects that expand broadband service in rural areas.”
Today’s funding announcement will provide almost $40 million from USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications capability in the three recipients’ service areas. USDA’s Telecommunications Loan Program finances infrastructure that enables access to a seamless, nationwide telecommunications network.
The following recipients have been selected to receive telecommunications loan financing. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan agreements.
Keystone-Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company will receive a $7.6 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to help meet the current and future data needs of its customers in Benton and Tama counties.
• Colton Telephone Company will receive a $7.3 million loan to complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.
South Dakota and Minnesota
• Interstate Telecommunications Company, Inc. will receive a $24.9 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.
USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Iowa. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $2.5 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities for Iowa families.
This past year USDA Rural Development’s investment in Iowa helped create or retain more than 1,600 jobs, aided 2,400 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 60 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.
Further information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by calling (515) 284-4663 or by visiting the agency’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia.
USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities and areas. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has funded 557 projects in 48 states through $6.1 billion in telecommunications loan financing. Secretary Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy - and he said that’s just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way - strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
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