Broadband and how to get rural communities connected is a huge topic for federal and state governments. Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL04) hosted a symposium recently on the topic of broadband and rural broadband expansion.

“June started out with me hosting a broadband symposium at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville," Aderholt wrote in an email to constituents on Saturday. “This was an opportunity for internet providers and state leaders to see how far we have come in expanding access to high-speed internet, and also to see the work we still need to do to get everyone connected.”

Aderholt was joined by the USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, Xochitl Torres Small, and Nivory Gordon, Jr., who is the USDA Alabama Rural Development Director. 

“The USDA is where I helped create the ReConnect program in 2018 with the help of then Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and President Trump,” said Aderholt.

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investment in high-speed internet is an investment in the success of people across rural America,” Small said. “That’s why this collaboration in Alabama convened by Congressman Aderholt is so important. It will lead to new jobs and businesses, improve access to health care, empower students with new information, help farmers and businesses break into new markets and build wealth in rural Alabama for generations to come.”

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Programs provide a variety of loans and grants to build and expand broadband networks such as the ReConnect Loan and Grant Program, which can provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.

Other programs designed to help bring high-speed internet to rural Alabama include the Community Connect Program, which provides financial assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants, Rural Broadband Loans, Loan/Grant Combinations, and Loan Guarantees program which furnishes loans and loan guarantees to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed in eligible rural areas, the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees program which provides financing for the construction, maintenance, improvement and expansion of telephone service and broadband in rural areas, and the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density.

Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, tribal and high-poverty areas.

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Aderholt is in his 13th term representing Alabama's Fourth Congressional District.

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