Broadband is critical to our state’s agricultural business community and many farmers and ranchers are currently unserved or underserved, however with the current resources available, there is an opportunity to provide quality broadband across the state and increase the productivity of farming operations statewide.
Arkansas ranks 48th in the nation for broadband coverage. COVID-19 and the shutdown of our education system, economy, and the altering of how healthcare is provided through telemedicine, has only painfully increased the divide between Arkansas with access to reliable internet and those who cannot access reliable internet. Recognizing this fact, advances have been made to assist rural Arkansans. The state has developed the Rural Broadband ID program, which would assist rural communities with a planning grant in order to prepare an application for federal dollars, located at USDA, to deploy broadband to rural communities. The current application process is complicated and tedious. However, the Rural Broadband ID grant program will provide county judges, and other officials, located in rural, underserved areas, the ability to compete for federal dollars to provide communities with the internet services they desperately need.
While a good first step, this program is not funded in the ongoing state budget (and is only currently funded with $2 million in one-time money). There are millions of dollars available at the federal level, but only for those who can navigate the complex federal grant application process.
Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant
- Funds to cover costs for broadband development in rural communities are available for qualifying towns, cities, and counties to extend broadband internet access
- Applications are awarded through the State of Arkansas and managed by UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation, will be accepted on an until funds are exhausted
- Grantees will conduct these studies in preparation for federal grant and loan applications for broadband development programs
For questions regarding the Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant Program, please email IDHI@uams.edu or call 855-234-3348.
AR Rural Connect (ARC)
- The ARC program will distribute at least $4.7 million in grants to partnerships between localities and internet service providers
- Applications can be submitted until all funds are expended-The CARES Act requires that the infrastructure must be deployed prior to December 30, 2020
For questions regarding Arkansas Rural Connect, broadband coverage, or federal broadband grants, please contact Clint Moore at 501-682-5917 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions regarding the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, please contact Tina May at 202-384-7478 or email at email@example.com.
Reconnect Loan and Grant Program
- USDA will make up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans
- This program will generate private sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet e-Connectivity to as many rural premises as possible
- The ReConnect Program offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband
For questions regarding the Reconnect Loan and Grant Program, please contact Steven Mosher at 870-754-9352 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.