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U.S. Department of Agriculture announces high-speed Internet grants

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 | 6:51 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Funding for high-speed Internet in rural Missouri received a boost Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a series of grants for 126 broadband services nationwide.

Eight Missouri companies were named in the announcement, receiving more than $81 million in awards funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Socket Telecom, a telecommunications company based in Columbia, was awarded $23,734,482 to provide underserved households, businesses and community organizations in mid-Missouri with high-speed Internet access.

"It’s clear how important increasing broadband access is to Missouri’s rural communities," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a news release. "Broadband Internet means jobs and economic development, as well as great improvements in health care, public safety and education."

In Missouri, the USDA estimates the award would benefit:

  • 6,500 people
  • 260 businesses
  • 36 community institutions
  • and support 525 jobs.

Nationwide, the 126 new projects will create jobs and provide improved access in 38 states and Native American tribal areas, the USDA said in a news release.

The projects will receive $1.2 billion, and the USDA plans to announce an additional $1 billion by Sept. 30.

“The broadband projects announced today will give rural Americans access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.


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