Rural broadband has been a hot topic for a few years, but it has certainly come to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic. As people have been forced to work from home, students taking classes online, and hospitals having to increase their consultations online, the need for a strong rural internet infrastructure is bigger than ever. We have heard of several infusions of funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but what does it all mean for Iowa?s rural residents?
Audio: Full Interview with USDA-Rural Development Iowa State Director Grant Menke
Grant Menke is the Iowa State Director for USDA Rural Development. He talks about the commitment that the USDA has shown to rural America. He talks about the ReConnect Program and the need for broadband improvements in Iowa.
Menke says that Iowa has been fortunate during this year to receive 13 different ReConnect awards from the USDA, totaling $71 million. Recently, the USDA-RD in Iowa has awarded three grants in Mitchell, Cherokee, and Wapello counties. Menke says these awards are expanding broadband access in all corners of the state so that rural families, communities, and businesses can thrive now and into the future.
Menke says that USDA Rural Development in Iowa has made significant investments in all kinds of projects this year. Investments have totaled $696 million this year. That is an all-time record. Menke saluted his staff for their hard work and the resiliency of rural communities in Iowa.
To learn more about USDA Rural Development programs and opportunities, visit their website.