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USDA To Spend $16.6 Million In Rural Utah

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing close to $17 million dollars for broadband infrastructure in rural Utah. Only nine percent of Utah’s population live outside of urban areas, but according to Randy Parker, the state Director of USDA rural development, that small number of people still need to be connected to the state and the rest of the world.

“Communication in today’s world is absolutely a necessity,” Parker said. “Being able to improve and enhance broadband infrastructure in rural Utah is important to economic opportunities and quality of life. We think it’s absolutely exciting the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking this kind of an interest in rural communities.”

This move is part of President Donald Trump’s executive order back in April of this year to promote agriculture and rural prosperity in America. That includes removing economic barriers and advancing innovation and technology in rural communities. Parker said it also goes well with Governor Herbert’s four-year plan of creating 25,000 jobs.

Parker said the Beehive Telephone Company received the loan from the USDA’s $200 million infrastructure budget to complete the $16.6 million project here in Utah. The last big communications infrastructure project took place in Emery County back in the 1940’s.

“That was a partnership between some rural folks, the Farmer’s Union and the USDA to put in the Emery County rural telephone,” Parker said. “USDA has had a long history of doing exactly this. But of course going from telephone in the 1940’s to broadband in 2017 is a major step forward. It’s all about communication and commitment to rural folks.”

Reliable internet is how the world works now. Parker said if economic growth is going to happen in rural Utah, this is an important step.