Rural Development investing $3.4 million in Illinois broadband

Doug Wilson speaks during a press conference Friday. (Photo by Bill Bodine)

USDA Rural Development will invest $3.4 million in a broadband infrastructure project, Rural Development Illinois State Director Douglas Wilson announced Friday.

The Hamilton County Telephone Cooperative Corp. Inc. project will create or improve connectivity for 603 rural households, 12 farms and a business in Hamilton County. This marks one of many announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program projects.

“High-speed broadband is critical for the future of rural communities,” Wilson said in a prepared statement. Wilson congratulated the Hamilton County Telephone Co-op on its successful application.

The co-op provides broadband access, video and voice services to 1,600 customers within about 467 square miles. The funding will be used to replace copper wire with fiber optic cable, benefitting 146 customers.

In March 2018, Congress provided USDA with $600 million to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the ReConnect program in December 2018.

Between May 31 and July 12, 2019, USDA received applications requesting $1.4 billion for loans, grants and loan-grant combinations. USDA continues to review applications and announce approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional announcement are expected in the coming weeks.

In December 2019, Perdue announced USDA will make an additional $550 million in ReConnect funds available in 2020. Applications are being accepted through March 16. For information, click here.