Workshops will provide insight, resources to those hoping to expand broadband availability in rural areas
Published 6:09 am Thursday, March 7, 2019
As internet has become a necessity, many rural communities are searching for innovative ways to bring reliable broadband to their citizens. A new Broadband ReConnect grant workshop offered by the USDA Rural Development Kentucky and Tennessee State Offices, The Center for Rural Development, and West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative will soon provide valuable insight and resources to those hoping to expand broadband availability.
Two free workshops will be held on the following dates: March 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg for interested parties in eastern Kentucky; and March 27 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. CDT at the WK&T Technology Park in Mayfield for interested parties in western Kentucky.
The workshops will provide an informative day of learning about the new $600 million USDA ReConnect Broadband Loan and Grant Program. The program provides funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.
The goal of the program is to build improved broadband e-Connectivity infrastructure for as many rural families, businesses, farms, schools and health care facilities as possible so they can succeed in the 21st Century.
ReConnect funds may be provided to rural telephone and broadband service providers, rural electric cooperatives, national and regional private companies, nonprofit organizations, and state and local government entities, but eligibility depends on state and local laws.
The USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program and Community Connect Grant Program will also be discussed during the workshops.
During the eastern Kentucky workshop, The Center for Rural Development will deliver information about its efforts to bring broadband access to eastern Kentucky through its Technology Assistance Program (TAP).
TAP is available to help communities begin asset mapping, perform feasibility studies, and conduct pre-engineering analysis of community fiber projects or other activities that will extend the reach of fiber infrastructure.
Registration for the free workshops is available online. To register for the eastern Kentucky workshop on March 26, visit https://conta.cc/2EfUZgV. To register for the western Kentucky workshop on March 27, visit https://conta.cc/2EivfAF. For those without internet access, registration can be completed by contacting Sarah Smith at The Center at 606-677-6026. More details will be coming soon and additional information can be found at https://www.usda.gov/reconnect.