OZARK- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) applauded the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $151 million investment in rural Arkansas. The funding through the USDA’s Electric Infrastructure Loan Program will be used to modernize the power grid with the installation of fiber optic cable to supply a secure high-speed communications path to nearly 60,000 Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative customers including Arkansans in Franklin, Sebastian, Logan, Yell, Newton, Pope, Crawford, Madison, Scott and Johnson Counties.
“We’ve provided resources to USDA and other federal agencies to help strengthen rural infrastructure in order to promote job growth and economic activity. I’m pleased Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative is investing in upgrades to expand smart grid technologies and broadband connectivity in our state,” said Boozman, co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus.
“When so many employees and students had to do work and school online this year because of COVID-19, we all saw just how important a reliable internet connection is to our daily lives. I’m pleased to see that USDA is investing in the Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative, allowing them to improve our infrastructure and provide thousands of families with high-speed service,” Westerman said.
Boozman and Westerman joined USDA Rural Development State Director David Branscum and Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative CEO Al Simpson for the announcement in Ozark.
“This investment will improve electric service by connecting more consumers, building and improving lines, and modernizing our power grids which will bolster our ability to deploy high-speed broadband internet infrastructure in Arkansas’ rural communities,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Arkansas David Branscum. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is a strong partner to rural communities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
“As a rural cooperative, we are passionate about changing the communities that we serve. We are very excited about the positive impact the USDA’s Electric Infrastructure Loan Program will have on Arkansas Valley’s Fiber Smart Grid Project. Financing through USDA loans will influence the landscape of rural America, much like they did in the 1930s when we brought electricity to these same areas,” Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative CEO Al Simpson said.
Congressman Bruce Westerman and Senator John Boozman are pictured with USDA Rural Development State Director David Branscum and Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative CEO Al Simpson during the investment announcement in Ozark.