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Upton announces $10.7 million in federal funding to provide rural broadband service to nearly 7,700 residents

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing nearly $11 million for broadband service in unserved and underserved rural communities across Southwest Michigan.

Southwest Michigan Communications Inc. will receive a $10.7 million loan/grant combination to deploy Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband service to Van Buren and Allegan counties. This project will extend broadband availability to 22 farms, 19 businesses, and 7,700 residents spread over 100 square miles.

This critical initiative is part of the USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program that seeks to connect more Americans to the Internet, especially in our nation’s rural communities.

“This major investment by the USDA is great news for our rural communities across Southwest Michigan,” Upton said. “Especially today as folks across our region are home practicing social distancing, working, taking classes, and operating businesses, broadband infrastructure must be reliable and secure, and these funds will help us improve connectivity. We’ll continue to work to ensure families and businesses have the access to the Internet they need, which remains the driving force of our 21st century economy.”

In addition to the $10.7 million allocated for Southwest Michigan, the ReConnect Pilot Program will also provide another $11.8 million to Barry County Services Company to provide affordable, fiber-based broadband services in rural Barry County. In total, the two projects will expand broadband services to nearly 20,000 residents.

To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance, and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect

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.

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