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NEWS RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C.

Tim McNeilly (202) 690-0498

USDA HOLDS BROADBAND AWARENESS WORKSHOP IN HARRISONBURG, VA.

     WASHINGTON, February 24, 2005--USDA Rural Development today announced a workshop on USDA Broadband Access programs, as well as other USDA Rural Development programs. The workshop will be held March 4, 2005 at the Sheraton Hotel in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Registration will open at 8:00 a.m. and the program will begin at 9:00 a.m.

     "President Bush's initiative to have broadband access nationwide by the year 2007 is vital to economic development in rural areas," said Agriculture Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Gilbert Gonzalez. "Rural housing, rural businesses, and community facilities all need to be connected to the digital information network for rural America to grow and prosper."

     The meeting will be keynoted by U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. Other speakers will include Acting USDA Rural Development State Director Philip Stetson, Acting Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, Curtis M. Anderson, and Broadband team members.

     The workshop will provide information on how to apply for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, the Community Connect Grant Program, and the Distance Learning/Telemedicine Loan and Grant Program will be available. The workshop is at no cost to the participants, but space is limited and participants are encouraged to register prior to the workshop.

     Discussions will include what programs are available, the eligibility, and other requirements; the application process, including the business plan and market survey, system design, credit support requirements and financial forecasts. The USDA Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program provides loans and loan guarantees for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment for broadband service in eligible rural communities. Priority is given to applications that are proposing to serve areas where no residential broadband service currently exists. Information on the USDA Rural Broadband access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program is available at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.

     USDA Rural Development's mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As a venture capital entity, Rural Development has invested over $50 billion since the beginning of the Bush Administration to provide equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. As a result, over 800,000 jobs have been created or saved through these investments. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.

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