The USDA is using $20 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law to help rural communities do the studies and other work they need to obtain broadband funding and carry out projects.  

The USDA Broadband Technical Assistance Program is a new initiative from the Rural Development mission area to help develop and expand broadband cooperatives in rural communities.

Technical assistance available may include “conducting feasibility studies, completing network designs and developing broadband financial assistance applications,” USDA said. Funding may also assist organizations in conducting data collection and accessing federal resources.

“USDA is partnering with small towns, local utilities and cooperatives, and private companies to increase access to this critical service, which in turn boosts opportunity and helps build bright futures,” said USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small.

Some $7.5 million will be available for technical assistance providers with individual award amounts totaling $50,000 to $1 million. Another $7.5 million will go to recipients of broadband technical assistance, with awards totaling $50,000 to $250,000.

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An additional $5 million — allocated in awards between $50,000 and $1 million — is available for projects that support cooperatives.

Access to high-speed internet is “how you grow the economy — not just in rural communities, but across the nation,” Torres Small said.  

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