USDA recently announced additional investments in broadband across the U.S. which includes a $20.3 million project in Minnesota.
Garden Valley Telephone Co. of Erskine, Minn., will receive a $20.36 million rural development loan to make system improvements in Polk, Clearwater, Pennington, Marshall and Red Lake counties, and in the vacation resort areas of Maple Lake and Union Lake. It plans to construct 295 miles of fiber-optic and fiber-to-the-premises facilities. These improvements will enable Garden Valley to enhance services and provide voice, video and higher broadband speeds for subscribers, according to a USDA news release.
“Infrastructure is all about connections — connecting a business to its customer, connecting a farmer to his market, connecting rural homes to clean water, connecting students to a world of knowledge,” said Brad Finstad, USDA Rural Development state director. “Broadband ‘e-connectivity’ is the digital superhighway of our economy today and in the coming decades. This project will help ensure that these rural communities are able to remain economically competitive.”
USDA officials said the department is investing $97 million in 12 projects across 11 states overall.
USDA funds are available through its Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and its Community Connect Grant Program.
In April 2017, an interagency task force on agriculture and rural prosperity was appointed to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January, the task force’s findings were reported, which explained the importance of rural e-connectivity. The report explained that the service is a vital tool for productivity, education and health care in rural areas.
For more information on rural development, visit rd.usda.gov.