U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA is funding 216 projects in 45 states, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands to bring high-speed internet, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and economic growth to rural communities as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Four of these projects are in South Carolina.

The new projects in South Carolina, totaling $18.5 million in investments, will benefit people living in remote areas of the state by providing reliable high-speed internet access, clean, safe water, and a range of support for rural families, agricultural producers, and small businesses, according to a news release.

“South Carolina is extremely proud to be involved in these monumental projects,” said George W. Hicks Jr., USDA South Carolina Rural Development acting state director “Projects like this help to bring high-speed internet, and much needed water and wastewater infrastructure for rural Americans. When USDA Rural Development partners with rural communities, we are helping to create better job opportunities to further enhance our alluring communities in South Carolina.”

High-Speed Internet Awards

USDA is investing in $51.7 million to expand access to high-speed internet for people in rural areas across the country through the Reconnect Program and the Broadband Technical Assistance Program.

Under the Broadband Technical Assistance Program, USDA is providing $9.7 million to help 24 organizations deliver or receive technical assistance to expand high-speed internet access for people in rural and Tribal communities across 17 states. This funding will also develop and expand broadband cooperatives in rural areas.

In South Carolina, according to the release:

  • W. Metts Engineering Co., Inc. is receiving $268,000 to promote the expansion of high-speed internet in the community of Norway in South Carolina and the community of Blowing Rock in Virginia. W. Metts Engineering Co. Inc. will utilize funding to provide technical assistance for two existing Metts Eng Clients. This project will serve Distressed Energy Communities and Persistent Poverty Communities in South Carolina and Virginia.

USDA is also providing grants through the ReConnect Program to bring high-speed internet to rural, remote, and underserved communities.

ReConnect Program Round 5 applications open

In addition to the high-speed internet investments, Secretary Vilsack also announced that USDA will begin accepting applications on March 22, 2024 for its fifth round of funding for the ReConnect Program to connect millions of people in rural America to affordable high-speed internet.

In order to continue connecting rural families, business owners and agricultural producers to reliable, affordable high-speed internet, USDA is making several program improvements under Round 5. This will further increase the availability of funding in rural areas where residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet.

Rural water and wastewater infrastructure

USDA is also providing $18.2 million to help rural utilities provide clean drinking water and sanitary wastewater systems for people in rural areas through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to help state and local governments, private nonprofits and federally recognized Tribes build and improve rural wastewater systems. The funding enables rural communities to expand access to clean and reliable drinking water, sanitary waste disposal and stormwater drainage.

In South Carolina, according to the release:

  • The Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission will use $3.9 million in funding to construct 29,500 linear feet of waterline, a new 1,000,000-gallon elevated water tank, site work and connections to the existing water system. This project will improve pressure, reliability, and resiliency for the area of the system north of Interstate 385. This project will benefit 16,000 users.
  • In Saluda County the Water and Sewer Authority will use $13.9 million in funding to provide subsequent funding for the construction of a 4 million gallons per day wastewater treatment facility. In total, Rural Development will be providing $40,032,000 in loan funding and $3,692,765 in grant funding for this project.
  • The town of Lane will use a $123,000 loan and a $279,000 grant to provide the town with subsequent funding to install 3.39 miles of water lines, fire hydrants and gate valves along Heineman Road. The proposed project will provide rural residents on the western edge of the city limits with clean drinking water. The project will benefit 32 households.

A full list of projects can be found here.

The post $19M in funding to boost South Carolina infrastructure projects appeared first on SC Biz News.