Federal Loans and Grants Available To Bring High-Speed Broadband To Rural Areas

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Topeka, Kan. – The Kansas State Department of Commerce announces today that applications are being accepted for the second round of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. ReConnect is a USDA program that furnishes loans and grants to fund the costs of construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.

As with the first funding round, USDA scoring includes points for states which have a broadband plan, and commit to expediting certain processes. Commerce is working with the USDA to ensure Kansas applicants are as competitive as possible.

Applications will be accepted until 6:00 PM EST on March 16, 2020. Applications are made through the USDA, but Kansas applicants must obtain a state certification letter from the Kansas Department of Commerce to submit with their USDA application. The state certification letter can be obtained at www.kansascommerce.gov/sign-up/.

Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s broadband ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. Funds will be awarded to projects that have financially sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches and community facilities such as first responders, health care sites and schools.

Broadband constitutes critical infrastructure for the prosperity of all Kansans, especially in rural and non-competitive areas. The delivery of broadband connection and high-quality service will enable technologies critical to rural communities, such as precision agriculture, and will fuel long-term economic development opportunities in rural America.

For more information on obtaining a state certification letter, visit www.kansascommerce.gov/the-kansas-edge/utilities/broadband-initiative/reconnect-for-rural-e-connectivity/.

To apply to the ReConnect Program, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.