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SEE HOW: Hamilton, Suwannee Counties will benefit from high-speed internet program

Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative Inc. is receiving a $17.8 million
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Posted at 1:58 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 13:58:24-05
  • Hamilton and Suwannee Counties are among the areas in Florid expected to benefit from a new round of funding for high-speed internet.
  • The money comes from grants through the ReConnect program.
  • Read the news release below to see how this program could benefit parts of the Big Bend.

USDA NEWS RELEASE:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Florida State Director Lakeisha Hood Moїse announced today that USDA is investing $42 million in grants through the ReConnect Program [lnks.gd] to bring high-speed internet to rural, remote and underserved communities in Florida.

 

“Investing in rural communities is part of USDA’s solution to erasing the digital divide,” Hood Moїse said. “Good, reliable high-speed internet brings new opportunities to people in rural America and makes it easier for them to share innovative ideas with the rest of the country.”

USDA’s ReConnect Program is designed to increase high-speed internet access in the most rural, remote and underserved communities in the nation by providing loans and grants to construct, improve, or acquire facilities and equipment needed to provide access to high-speed internet service in eligible rural areas.

Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative Inc. is receiving a $17.8 million ReConnect Program grant to benefit 19,000 people, 480 businesses, 650 farms and 42 educational facilities in Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee counties. 

Additionally, IBT Group USA LLC is receiving a $24.2 million ReConnect Program grant to benefit more than 8,600 people, 230 businesses, 11 farms and 34 educational facilities in DeSoto County. IBT Group USA LLC will also make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline Program [lnks.gd] and Affordable Connectivity Program [lnks.gd].

Hood Moїse also announced that USDA will begin accepting applications on March 22, 2024, for its fifth round of funding for the ReConnect Program to connect more people in rural Florida to affordable high-speed internet.

In order to continue connecting rural families, business owners and agricultural producers to reliable, affordable high-speed internet, USDA is making several program improvements under Round 5. This will further increase the availability of funding in rural areas where residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet. 

For a full list of program improvements, and program and application requirements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect [lnks.gd] or see page 13036 of the Feb. 21, 2024, Federal Register [lnks.gd].