The Recovery Act Provides a Large Swath of Kansas with Broadband Service-Creating an Estimated 25,000 Construction Jobs
David Villano, assistant administrator of USDA’s Rural Utilities programs recently provided the keynote address to the 2010 Kansas Broadband Summit in Wichita. The Summit, entitled “A Fully Connected Kansas – Mission Possible” addressed topics of telemedicine, government services, economic development, mapping and digital accessibility. Over 180 attended including USDA Recovery Act broadband awardees Madison Telephone Co., LLC, NEX-Tech, and SC Telcom. The purpose of the summit was to begin building a statewide sustainable broadband focus.
Villano said Recovery Act Broadband funding helped provide an “essential tool in the recovery of rural America.” As the first pillar in Secretary Vilsack’s rural development plan, broadband investment can help create a rural economy that is “vibrant, innovative and thriving,” according to Villano.
Villano outlined the broadband investment in Kansas which added “$133,000,000 in loans and grants for 10 Kansas projects. The investment provides connectivity to 529 anchor institutions, 24,451 households and 6,814 businesses in the service areas represented by the BIP recipients.
Villano further mentioned that Kansas was the first state in the nation to bring broadband connectivity to a customer through Recovery Act funding and was one of the first states to begin collection and analysis of broadband data. He indicated that much of the new construction has just recently begun and the capital investment will be significant through 2010 and 2011. He estimated approximately 25,000 construction jobs will be created.
Villano applauded the unprecedented collaboration between the federal government, telecoms and state and local government to help unlock the “economic and entrepreneurial activity in rural America.”
Villano reminded the audience that USDA Rural Development can truly “build a community from the ground up and that through the Recovery Act investment even citizens in remote rural areas will have the opportunity to participate in the new global economy.”