CARSON CITY – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a significant expansion of access to high-speed internet, health care and educational services for millions of rural Americans nationwide.
Starting Nov. 24, USDA will begin accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to expand the availability of broadband in rural areas. USDA is making the funding available through the ReConnect Program.
To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area without broadband service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload) and commit to building facilities capable of providing broadband service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area. In making funding decisions, USDA will prioritize projects that will serve low-density rural areas with locations lacking internet access services at speeds of at least 25 Mbps (download) and 3 Mbps (upload). The USDA will also consider, among other things, the economic needs of the community to be served; the extent to which a provider will offer affordable service options; a project’s commitment to strong labor standards; and whether a project is serving tribal lands or is submitted by a local government, Tribal Government, non-profit or cooperative.
USDA has simplified the application process and has expanded the program significantly. For example, ReConnect will now offer 100 percent grants for certain projects on tribal lands and in socially vulnerable communities.
The Department plans to make available up to $200 million in ReConnect Program loans, up to $250 million in loan/grant combinations, up to $350 million in grants with a 25 percent matching requirement, and up to $350 million in grants with no matching requirement for projects in tribal and socially vulnerable communities.
Once the application window opens, applications must be submitted through USDA Rural Development’s online application system on the ReConnect webpage. All required materials for completing an application are included in the online system.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Nevada Acting State Director Jim Park also announced that the USDA is investing nearly $244,000 in two rural distance learning and telemedicine projects in Nevada, as part of the $50 million investment in 105 rural distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and Puerto Rico.
These awards are being funded through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program. This program helps fund distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas to increase access to education, training and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable.
In Nevada, as part of today’s announcement:
- One Rural Development investment to BHC Health Services of Nevada, Inc for $177,644 will be used to offer remote telepsychology and telepsychiatry healthcare to patients located in Battle Mountain City in Lander County, Ely City in White Pine County, Hawthorne Census-Designated Place (CDP) in Mineral County, Lovelock City in Pershing County, Panaca CDP in Lincoln County and Yerington City in Lyon County. Through the Northern Nevada TRON Project, the consortium will reach approximately 50,000 individuals and serve 5,000 patients in seven rural health clinics.
- A second Rural Development investment to DVH Hospital Alliance LLC for $66,355 will be used to purchase telemedicine equipment to expand healthcare services in rural Nevada. Desert View Hospital has partnered with two rural communities in Southwestern Nevada to expand access to specialty care such as emergency, surgery, inpatient nursing care, radiology, laboratory, cardiopulmonary, physical therapy, wound care, and psychiatry services. This project will offer higher levels of care through telemedicine to over 20,000 individuals in Nye County.
To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.