State Rep. Mary Whiteford today announced Southwest Michigan Communications Inc. will receive $10.7 million in a loan/grant combination to deploy Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband service to Van Buren and Allegan counties. The initiative is part of the USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program.
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.
“This project will extend broadband availability to 22 farms, 19 businesses, and 7,700 residents spread over 100 square miles,” said Whiteford, of Casco Township. “Now more than ever, internet access is vital for the people of our region, as people must educate their children from home, operate their businesses or work from home, and receive necessary routine and preventative health care via telehealth.”
Whiteford sent a letter to the UDSA in March to express support for the grant proposal submitted by Bloomingdale Communications, Inc. for the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) ReConnect Grant.
“With this grant, Bloomingdale Communications, Inc.’s expanded broadband network will enable us to overcome geographical distances, empower us through information, and bring the world to us through the touch of a keyboard,” Whiteford wrote in her letter. “As an unserved rural area with limited modern internet services, we face many challenges including limited medical resources and distance between patients, physicians, specialists and facilities. Also, our students do not receive equitable broadband resources as other students in more urban learning centers.”
To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance, and recent announcements, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.