Rural Relevance continues to be an issue on the minds of rural advocates across the country. In September 2013, The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) – The Rural Broadband Association, launched the “Rural is Cool” initiative in which the association invited its members and fellow rural community advocates to share on social media why rural is indeed “cool” and relevant. Since its kick-off, #ruraliscool has received hundreds of submissions with pictures and links to relevant, rural-focused articles. The Huffington Post recently covered a similar rural-promoting initiative undertaken by the Irish Farmer’s Journal: farmers posting with their livestock in what they are calling #felfies (a take on the 2013 “selfie” craze). NTCA and its members continue to look for innovative ways to showcase the innivative, smart initiatives taking place in rural America. For more on the #ruraliscool initiative at NTCA, click here.
The omnibus provides $2.4 billion for Rural Development programs, which is $180 million above the FY 2013 enacted level. These programs help spur economic growth by supporting basic infrastructure, providing loans to rural businesses and industries, and helping strengthen housing markets in rural areas. Specifically, the bill provides $10.37 million in grants (an increase of $0.26 million from FY 2013 pre-sequestration), $4.5 million in loan subsidies (a $0.61 million increase from FY 2013 pre-sequestration), and $34.48 million in direct loans ($7.76 million less than FY 2013 levels pre-sequestration) for broadband transmission and internet services in unserved rural areas. To read the entire Omnibus Special Report from the National Association of Counties, click here.
The nation’s small, independent telecommunications providers continue to make wireless service a top priority, but competition with large national carriers and difficulties securing financing and spectrum for those projects pose significant challenges, according to a new survey by NTCA. To read more from the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, click here.