WASHINGTON — Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program has approved a $199,613 grant for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).
“I thank the USDA for recognizing the needs of rural Texans and commend UTRGV for its commitment to harnessing the untapped potential in our communities,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “This important funding will unlock opportunities that allow even more Texans to thrive.”
This funding will allow UTRGV to provide technical assistance to 41 counties in South Texas. Investments will be distributed across three projects:
- E-Connectivity: The framework outlined by Congress allows these new federal funds to be deployed in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. A wide variety of entities is eligible for funding, including incumbent and competitive rural telephone and broadband service providers, rural electric cooperatives, private firms (but not sole proprietors or partnerships), nonprofits and governmental bodies. Rural areas with current internet service speeds of 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload at the household will be eligible to apply for the pilot program funds. The requirements on build-out speeds are not specified by the law and are therefore under development. See page 52 of the legislation for the full text (PDF, 2 MB).
- Rural Economic Development and Innovation: This assistance provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
- Rural Quality of Life: Ensuring rural Americans can achieve a high quality of life is the foundation of prosperity. Quality of life is a measure of human well-being that can be identified though economic and social indicators. Modern utilities, affordable housing, efficient transportation and reliable employment are economic indicators that must be integrated with social indicators like access to medical services, public safety, education and community resilience to empower rural communities to thrive. Focusing and delivering key federal reforms will enable rural Americans to flourish and prosper in 21st Century communities.
Congressman Gonzalez remains a steadfast advocate of rural Central and South Texans and will continue to be vocal on their behalf in Congress.
–The Office of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez
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