BROWNSTOWN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing nearly $4 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Indiana. The Jackson County Rural Electric Membership Corp. will use a $1.9 million loan and a $1.9 million grant to deploy a fiber network it says will connect thousands of citizens to high-speed broadband internet in Jackson and Lawrence counties.
The USDA says the investment is part of the $550 million allocated by Congress for the second round of the ReConnect Program. Through the program, the department says more than 4,800 people, nearly 200 farms and 36 businesses will have access to high-speed internet.
“I’m so glad to see this investment in infrastructure in my home state of Indiana,” said USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney. “In my conversations with our overseas trading partners, we often speak about the important role of innovation to global agriculture. But innovation depends on access to reliable, high-speed internet. I’m hopeful that investments such as ReConnect can help farmers operate more effectively and efficiently to deliver their products to those across Indiana – and, indeed, across the world.”
The USDA says the second round will enable it to implement new solutions to rural connectivity by leveraging financial options with its partners and by building on progress of the first round of funding.
In Round One of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $698 million to bring high-speed broadband to approximately 167,000 households, 17,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 healthcare centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities in 33 states.