The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced yesterday that it is extending the deadlines to apply for assistance through the Rural eConnectivity (ReConnect) Pilot Program. Preparations for the $600 million grant and loan program were affected by the recent month-long partial government shut down. The first filing deadline, originally set for April 29, will now be May 31.
“We’ve seen such strong interest in ReConnect from rural telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives, that we want to be sure there’s enough time for them to put solid applications together for these innovative funding opportunities,” said Bette Brand, acting administrator of the Rural Utilities Service.
USDA specifies that telephone companies, rural electric cooperatives, ISPs and municipalities are eligible to apply for ReConnect funds. In December, the agency announced three deadlines: one for entities seeking ReConnect grants; a second for proposed grant/loan combinations, and a third on June 28 for low-interest loan applications. USDA says it will announce specific new deadline dates later this month.
At 2 p.m. Eastern Time today, USDA plans to hold a webinar to provide general information about the ReConnect Program. It will hold a follow-up webinar next Wednesday, Feb. 13, for those unable to attend today’s webinar.