USDA's Rural Development office has received 78 applications representing about 3,400 farms and rural businesses across 34 states have requested for the first round of funding under the ReConnect Pilot Program. The financial requests total about $522 million, far surpassing the $200 million Congress authorized for the department to spend on the grant-only portion of the program. ReConnect makes available a total of $600 million to improve broadband services across the country. There are two more deadlines for applications. The next deadline is for loan/grant combinations and closes June 21, and low-interest loan applications close July 12. Local and state governments, Indian tribes, nonprofits, limited liability companies, cooperatives and mutual organizations may apply for funding. Money will be given to projects with a financially stable business model to provide high-speed broadband access. Some 21.3 million Americans still lack reliable broadband service according to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2019 Rural Broadband Deployment Report.
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