New Rules for Rural Broadband Grants
The USDA is changing the rules for its program to give money to rural communities that do not have broadband access. The changes may help communities in west central Illinois.
Karen Poncin serves on the board for the Partnership for a Connected Illinois and is an Associate Director at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University.
She said the changes allow communities to define their own region in grants instead of relying on US census data, which sometimes don’t list small communities.
"I could not find Colmar on any census data, now I'm not sure that actually mean they wouldn't have qualified for this before, but certainly the community on its own would have probably really struggled to access this kind of funding," Poncin said.
She says the new rules also give priority to communities suffering from “out-migration” a problem that, Ponicn said, affects many communities in Western Illinois.