USDA ReConnect Rural Broadband Infrastructure Grant
USDA is now accepting applications for funding through the new ReConnect Rural Broadband Pilot Program. These funds will enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second download and 1 megabit per second upload. Funds will be awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches, and community facilities such as first responders, health care sites, and schools.
To be eligible for 100 percent grant, the proposed funded service area must be in a rural area where 100 percent of the households do not have sufficient broadband access. To be eligible for loan or loan/grant packages, the service area must be in a rural area where 90 percent of households do not have sufficient broadband access. No matter which funding type the applicant requests, the proposed network must be capable of providing service to every premise in the proposed service area at a speed of, at minimum, 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.
Funds may be utilized as follows:
- To fund the construction or improvement of buildings, land, and other facilities that are required to provide broadband service.
- To fund reasonable pre-application expenses (not to exceed 5 percent of award).
- To fund the acquisition and improvement of an existing system that is currently providing insufficient broadband services (eligible for 100 percent loan requests only).
Eligible Applicants: Non-profits, for-profits, limited liability corporations, cooperative or mutual organizations, telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers, states, local governments or any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision, territories, and Indian Tribes.
Minimum/Maximum Grant Request: 100 percent grants – $25,000,000; 50 percent loan/50 percent grant – $25,000,000 for the loan and $25,000,000 for the grant; 100 percent loan – $50,000,000
Match: For 100 percent grant applications, the match is 25 percent of the cost of the overall project; for 50 percent grant/50 percent loan applications, applicants may propose substituting cash for the loan component; for 100 percent loan the interest rate is fixed at 2 percent. Tangible equity to total assets must be at least 20 percent at the end of the calendar year starting in the third year of the forecast period through the remainder of the forecast period.
Deadline: May 31, 2019 for projects seeking grants only; June 21, 2019 for projects seeking a combination grant/loan; July 12, 2019 for projects seeking low-interest loans only
Contact: Applicants are encouraged to contact their state or regional office representatives with questions. A list of those contacts and offices can be found at https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices
For further information or assistance in applying for funding opportunities, contact KLJ at 701-355-8400