USDA extends deadline to April 15 for $550 million in rural broadband grants
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand announced recently the department has extended the deadline for federal ReConnect Pilot Program applications to April 15.
“In light of the COVID-19 National Emergency, USDA is extending the application deadline for round two of ReConnect Pilot Program funding to give rural businesses, cooperatives and communities extra time to apply for this critical assistance that will help bring high-speed broadband connectivity to rural communities,” Brand said in a statement. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has made deploying this critical infrastructure in rural America a top priority, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
According to previous reports, roughly $550 million in funding is available for rural projects, including those in Northern Nevada. The original application window for this round of funding opened Jan. 31 and was set to close March 16.
For background, in March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. As of this spring, USDA had awarded $191 million through the ReConnect program.
These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.
For this second round of funding, USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans.
Applications for all three funding types (grant, combination loan and grant and loan) will be accepted in the same application window, which will now close April 15.
To learn more about eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit http://www.usda.gov/reconnect.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.