USDA Invests $9 Million In Broadband For Rural Tennessee Communities

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Thursday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested $9 million in four, high-speed broadband infrastructure projects that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for 3,744 rural households, 31 businesses, 41 farms and a critical community facility in Tennessee. This is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments. 

“Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America,” Secretary Perdue said.
“We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Ben Lomand Holdings Inc. will use a $2.2 million ReConnect Program grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network to rural northeastern Cumberland County. The funded service areas include 222 households, six pre-subscribed businesses and three pre-subscribed farms spread over 100 square miles.

North Central Communications Inc. will use a $1.4 million ReConnect Program grant to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in rural Smith County. The funded service areas include 164 households, 10 pre-subscribed businesses and 21 pre-subscribed farms spread over 22 square miles.

Peoples Telephone Company, dba TEC, will use a $1 million ReConnect Program loan and a $1 million ReConnect Program grant to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in rural Houston, Henry, Stewart and Montgomery counties. The funded service areas include 642 households, two pre-subscribed businesses and five pre-subscribed farms spread over 38 square miles.

United Communications Inc. will use a $3.3 million ReConnect Program grant to provide broadband service to residents and businesses in rural Wilson, Rutherford, Williamson and Maury counties. The funded service areas include 2,716 households, 13 pre-subscribed businesses, 12 pre-subscribed farms and a critical community facility spread over 48 square miles.

Background:

In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks. 

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.

In December 2019, Agriculture Secretary Perdue announced USDA will be making available an additional $550 million in ReConnect funding in 2020. 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. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020.

A full description of 2020 ReConnect Pilot Program funding is available on page 67913 of the Dec. 12, 2019, Federal Register (PDF, 336 KB). To learn more about eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect. 

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force. To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB). 

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/tn.

Pro Bono Report Shows Highest Number, Percentage Of Attorneys Reporting Pro Bono In History

The Dog Wizard Expands To Chattanooga

State Rep. Ron Travis Selected To Carry Contract Procurement Bill On Behalf Of Speaker Sexton


The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has released its annual report detailing the pro bono legal service reported by attorneys, bar associations, law firms, law schools, ... (click for more)

Mobile dog training franchise, The Dog Wizard, has expanded to Chattanooga. Local Professional Dog Trainer John Hayes founded the dog training franchise in Chattanooga that launched in February. ... (click for more)

House Speaker Cameron Sexton has asked State Rep. Ron Travis to serve as co-prime sponsor of House Bill 2727 as it travels through the committee process in the Tennessee House of Representatives. ... (click for more)




Business

Pro Bono Report Shows Highest Number, Percentage Of Attorneys Reporting Pro Bono In History

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission has released its annual report detailing the pro bono legal service reported by attorneys, bar associations, law firms, law schools, legal service providers, mediators and other organizations. Pro bono is a Latin term meaning “for the public good,” and attorneys working pro bono are often working for no, or a reduced, fee. ... (click for more)

The Dog Wizard Expands To Chattanooga

Mobile dog training franchise, The Dog Wizard, has expanded to Chattanooga. Local Professional Dog Trainer John Hayes founded the dog training franchise in Chattanooga that launched in February. He’s been working in Chattanooga as a dog trainer for the past few years. Always perfecting his craft, Mr. Hayes said he wanted to offer Chattanooga an array of modern, world renowned ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Company Planning $225 Million Expansion In Chattanooga; 87 Jobs To Be Added

A company is planning a $225 million expansion in Chattanooga, County Commission members were told Wednesday. There will be 87 jobs added by the project, it was stated. However, officials said they could not disclose the name of the company yet. The county is applying for a $870,000 Fasttrack Economic Develop grant to assist with construction costs. (click for more)

CDOT Planning Narrowed Lanes, Landscaping Along Route Leading To The Chattanooga Airport

The Chattanooga Department of Transportation (CDOT) will be making significant improvements along Shepherd Road and Airport Connector Road as part of the Airport Master Plan, officials said. Upgrades will include traffic calming narrowed lanes, bicycle lanes, curb and gutters, pedestrian ways and sidewalks, and landscape improvements. The new roadway cross section will ... (click for more)

Opinion

Ridiculous Bike Lanes On Shepherd Road

More brilliant thinking from the city of Chattanooga. Let’s take a five lane road leading from Highway 153 to the airport and make it three lanes, add some bike lanes, sidewalks and landscaping. Who are these idiots that come up with ways to waste money? Bike lanes? Really? How often are the ones on Shallowford at 153 being utilized? Never! I traveled Shallowford to and from ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Worst Ash Wednesday

Today, and every Ash Wednesday to come in my life, will be the anniversary of the longest one hour I ever spent. And, what’s more, either this year or next will mark the 50th year I attended an early Ash Wednesday service that provided one of my life’s greatest lessons. Back in the day a gaggle of us swells from Ole Miss had descended on what was brazenly called “an adventure” in ... (click for more)