The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded nearly $13 million to a south central Illinois internet provider to expand broadband internet services to rural areas of Jefferson and Wayne County. The grant/loan combination award to Wabash Communications Co-Op out of Louisville will be used to install almost 300 miles of fiber internet lines in northeastern Jefferson and western Wayne Counties.
Making the official announcement was Bill Northey, the Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation for the USDA. He says the installation of broadband internet will help these rural areas lead into the future of agriculture and give residents a better quality of life.
Doug Wilson is the USDA's State Director for Rural Development in Illinois. He says the key to bringing high-speed internet to more rural areas of the state and of the country is to maximize investment dollars through local, state, federal, and private partnerships.
The $13 million is a part of $600 million that Congress set aside for rural broadband development. Northey says the USDA received over $1.4 billion dollars in requests for grant money in this first round of applications.