The Department of Agriculture (USDA) made its first investment under its ReConnect pilot program to support broadband availability, offering $2.85 million to a local service provider in Tennessee, the department announced October 18.

The grant, awarded to Forked Deer Electric Cooperative, will bring high speed broadband to 347 rural households across 435 square miles. The award is the first of many, as Congress allocated $600 million to support rural broadband availability.

“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,” said Sonny Perdue, secretary of USDA.

The press release also noted that USDA received 146 applications for $1.4 billion in funding, with more awards set to be announced “in the coming weeks.”

“The project will facilitate more access to services and information for area residents, and it will improve the overall quality of life for people in these communities,” USDA stated.

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MeriTalk Staff