8 rural Kentucky counties get USDA broadband funds

USDA partner to create more livable communities in 8 distressed rural KY counties through broadband expansion

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small announced Monday a partnership through the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge that will help improve the quality of life in eight distressed rural Kentucky counties.

The $250,000 cooperative agreement will help Kentucky Highlands Center for Development provide technical assistance to eliminate barriers for public housing residents accessing broadband in Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley counties.

“USDA is investing in ways to help people in our nation’s smallest towns and communities access the government funding they need to create more jobs, deploy critical infrastructure, repair their homes or build more and better homes for the community, and so much more,” Torres Small said. “As we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on people living in rural places, the department is targeting resources and leveraging partnerships to enhance the quality of life in rural towns and Tribal areas who need it most. Community and economic development strategies like placemaking are critical to helping the people of rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.”

Also announced is a partnership with the University of Tennessee, which will benefit parts of McCracken County including Paducah as well as the city of Calvert, Kentucky.

These awards are part of the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge. Placemaking is a collaborative planning and technical assistance process that helps leaders from rural communities create quality places where people will want to live, work, visit and learn.

The groups will work directly with people in rural communities to develop plans that will ensure people have access to high-speed internet in their homes, are able to live in affordable houses, have access to safe and reliable transportation to go to school and work, and more. This assistance will support the communities for up to two years.

Other announcements made today include investments that will help people in rural and/or Tribal communities in Alabama, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Puerto Rico.

USDA 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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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