Monday, November 08, 2010

11/16: Public Hearing in Albuquerque with FCC Comissioner Copps on Future of the Internet

The Internet’s future will be debated on November 16 in Albuquerque at a public hearing featuring Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Michael Copps and community leaders. The hearing coincides with the National Congress of American Indians' Annual Convention and is a valuable opportunity for Native Americans, Latinos and people from all of New Mexico’s diverse communities to share their ideas, experiences and concerns about Internet access and freedom. It's a rare chance for members of the public to participate in this important debate and to make their voices heard.

  • WHAT: Public Hearing on the Future of the Internet
  • DATE: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
  • TIME: 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
  • LOCATION: National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th Street SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

The free event is co-hosted by Free Press, the Center for Media Justice and the Media Literacy Project. For more information visit www.savetheinternet.com/ABQhearing. Click to RSVP. Everyone interested in expanding Internet access as well as ensuring that the Internet continues to serve the public and not just big media conglomerates is encourage to attend and participate.

This is a critical time in the debate over the future of the Internet in America. Nearly 24 million Americans -- and 50.3 percent of New Mexico households -- lack access to broadband.

“The Internet is an essential tool for participating in society and politics,” said Andrea Quijada, executive director of the Media Literacy Project. “No community should be left behind. American Indians and Latinos, especially those who live in rural areas, need the Internet to advocate for themselves, access government services and get important educational and health information. The Internet means opportunity, and we can’t deny opportunity to people because they can’t afford the Internet or don’t have access to it.”

Not only do communities need affordable broadband service, but they need to be able to choose where they go and what they see on the Web without interference from online gatekeepers.

“The location and timing could not be more perfect for this public hearing,” said Amalia Deloney, grassroots policy director for the Center for Media Justice. “We've heard from many Native and Latino communities about the challenges they face with access, and the vital role an open Internet plays in their lives. Holding this meeting during NCAI's annual conference ensures that these voices can be part of the conversation and that the FCC hears from community members, not just corporate lobbyists.”

The FCC is currently crafting the rules and regulations that will shape the future of the Internet. Phone and cable companies are flooding Washington with money and lobbyists, but the general public has been largely excluded from the debate.

“Decisions are being made inside the Beltway that affect people outside it, in the real world, and it is crucial that the FCC hears from people about the importance of protecting the open Internet,” said Misty Perez Truedson of Free Press. “As more and more people are getting online, we need the FCC to make sure that everyone has access to the same open Internet.”

Senator Tom Udall Weighs In
Last month, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) wrote an article for Politico urging the FCC to preserve an open Internet and reassert its authority over broadband access by "partially reclassifying Internet communications as a 'telecommunications service' under Title II of the Communications Act." He said, in part:

This openness to a constant stream of innovations and new services is a defining feature of the Internet. At its core, the principle of “network neutrality” is freedom to access any legal, online content without restrictions from Internet service providers. In our country, we have had the luxury to take this virtually limitless power for granted — despite the fact that it is not guaranteed by law.

November 8, 2010 at 09:43 AM in Broadband, Events, Hispanic Issues, Native Americans, Regulation, Rural Issues, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Terry Brunner Guest Blog: 2010 Saw Record Funding for USDA Rural Development Projects

TerryBrunner This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner, who is the State Director for USDA Rural Development New Mexico.

Many facets of our nation’s economy need strengthening as we make our way through the economic recovery -- one of them is infrastructure. Improvements to our public systems, services, and facilities play a vital role in increasing economic activity.

During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development New Mexico office provided $384 million in infrastructure and business investments across New Mexico through our programs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) played a large role in tripling our funding over previous years.

USDA investments made in wastewater treatment facilities, libraries, broadband and electric infrastructure (among other projects) provided immediate jobs in construction and some permanent positions. In addition to creating jobs, these investments help ensure the long-term sustainability of New Mexico communities by providing the infrastructure needed to improve our economy. Federal funding becomes increasingly more important as state and local governments contend with tight budgets.

Water and Wastewater
This fiscal year, USDA provided $54 million in funding for 28 clean drinking water systems and wastewater treatment projects in New Mexico. Some of these projects were small projects like the $56,000 grant provided to the Duranes y Gavilan water system in Rio Arriba County. Some were much larger, like the $26 million grant and loan provided to the Pueblo of Laguna. Imagine how life will change for Laguna Pueblo residents who lack water service for days or weeks and watch their water system’s pipes burst an average of four times every day.

Broadband
Broadband infrastructure is crucial to the survival of our communities. USDA Rural Development provided a $9.6 million ARRA loan and grant to Penasco Valley Telecom in Artesia, NM. With these funds, broadband service will be extended to farms, ranches and small businesses in rural Southeast New Mexico that currently do not have service. Farming and ranching are more than ever high tech activities and access to the latest information on prices, transportation, weather and other important data provided through the internet is crucial to the success of the agricultural community and their efforts to remain competitive internationally.

Home Loans
Three and a half years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Yokom and their two young sons moved into a motor home after Mr. Yokom suffered a workplace injury which cost him his job in California. As they drove around the Southwest looking for a place to call home, they settled in Los Lunas, NM. The Yokoms qualified for and received a home loan from USDA to purchase a three bedroom home and 1/4 acre of land in Los Lunas. Since moving in, they’ve quickly become part of the fabric of that community -- the boys are involved in Cub Scouts and the family is getting to know their new neighbors. In FY ’10, USDA Rural Development helped more than 11,000 New Mexico families like the Yokoms find a place to call home and make a living.

Investments in NM Businesses
USDA Rural Development also funds investments in New Mexico businesses. For example, we provided a $12,500 grant to Milk and Honey, LLC in Santa Fe, NM. They used the funds to improve the marketing and packaging of their soaps and lotions. The owner of this local business, Daven Lee, received strong responses to her growing product line from local and regional retailers. She hopes that with an increase in orders, she will be adding staff as soon as this winter.

Economic Recovery
These are just a few examples of USDA Rural Development’s efforts in New Mexico during 2010. We not only helped foster individual businesses and helped people find a place to live, but we made critical infrastructure investments that hopefully lay the foundation for the future success and economic recovery of New Mexico’s communities.

President Barack Obama appointed Terry Brunner New Mexico State Director for USDA Rural Development on September 9, 2009.

This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner. We've previously posted a number of stories about the activities of USDA Rural Development. You can see most of them here.

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

October 20, 2010 at 02:42 PM in Agriculture, Broadband, Business, Economy, Populism, Energy, Guest Blogger, Housing, Native Americans, Obama Administration, Rural Issues, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Udall & Bingaman Host NM Broadband Summit; $73M in Grants, Loans Announced

Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman today co-hosted a New Mexico Broadband & Smart Grid Summit in Moriarty that featured the announcement of more than $73 million in grants and awards to expand broadband services to rural, underserved areas of New Mexico.

More than 300 people attended the summit at the Moriarty Civic Center, according to a statement released by the Senators. The summit included panel sessions featuring experts on the challenges and opportunities facing New Mexico as it works to overcome the digital divide and harness broadband technologies to promote economic growth, energy independence and health care delivery. Udall led the first panel session, titled “Wiring New Mexico for the Future;” while Bingaman led the second panel, titled “Bringing Broadband to Energy -- Smart Grid in New Mexico.”

Funding for Taos, Colfax, Rio Arriba Counties
Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of the Rural Electricity Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), also gave a keynote address in which he announced $63.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for a broadband infrastructure project that will deliver affordable broadband service to 29 communities in rural, underserved areas of Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative will receive a $44 million grant and a $19 million loan – for a total of $63.8 million – to create the 2,400-mile broadband network, which will connect approximately 20,500 households, 3,600 businesses, 183 critical community institutions and two Native American Pueblos.

“This project will give rural New Mexico residents access to the broadband they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities,” Adelstein said. “It will enable Kit Carson to deploy cutting edge smart grid technology that will help cut electric bills and permit sustainable energy development. The Obama Administration understands that bringing broadband to rural New Mexico will give families, businesses and key anchor institutions --- such as schools, libraries and first responders --service that is second to none. This project will create immediate jobs building out the network, and the completed system will provide a platform for economic growth in Northern New Mexico for years to come.”

Additional Funding for Northern NM
Also at the summit, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Deputy Administrator Anna M. Gomez announced a separate, $10.6 million ARRA grant to the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District’s REDI Net project, which will make high-quality broadband services more affordable and accessible to residents, businesses, and public institutions in Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties, northern Santa Fe and five Native American tribal communities.

“Today was a big day for New Mexico,” Udall said. “Not only did we bring experts from across the spectrum together to discuss the challenges our state faces in bridging the digital divide, but we also took an important step forward in connecting our rural areas with the announcement of more than $73 million in grants and loans. Broadband creates jobs. Broadband connects communities. That’s what this summit is about today.”

"New Mexico is poised to be a leader in expanding broadband access and the use of ‘smart grid’ technology to reduce consumers' utility bills, and I believe the summit will help make that a reality," Bingaman said. "The grants announced today show that the federal government can be a very important partner in meeting our state's broadband and smart grid needs."

Congressman Ben Ray Luján also lauded today's recovery announcement for expanded broadband into the northern area of his district.

“I am proud to see Recovery funds supporting much-needed broadband in Northern New Mexico. I commend REDI Net for investing in our communities and connecting our families and small businesses to the world,” Luján said.

Governor Bill Richardson issued a statement saying, “This is a tremendous boost for New Mexico, and especially for our rural residents that often lack access to affordable and high-quality broadband services. This project will create jobs and lead to better opportunities in education and economic development.”

Panelists for Udall’s discussion of “Wiring New Mexico for the Future” included: Dr. Dale Alverson, Director of the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the University of New Mexico; John Badal, Chief Executive Officer of Sacred Wind Communications; Sharon Gillett, Wireline Competition Bureau Chief for the Federal Communications Commission; Dr. Susan Oberlander, State Librarian, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, and Jessica Zufolo, Deputy Administrator, Rural Utility Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Panelists for Bingaman’s discussion of “Bringing Broadband to Energy – Smart Grid in New Mexico” included: Dr. Tom Bowles, Science Advisor for Governor Bill Richardson; Suedeen Kelly, Partner at Patton Boggs LLP; Eric Lightner, Director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force at the U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. Daniel López, President of New Mexico Tech; Dr. Terry Michalske, Director of Energy and Security Systems at Sandia National Laboratories; and Luis Reyes, Chief Executive Officer of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative.

August 16, 2010 at 05:12 PM in Broadband, Economy, Populism, Gov. Bill Richardson, Obama Administration, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rural Issues, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Guest Blog: USDA Offers Funding Opportunities for NM Projects

Terry_Brunner_USDA-RD This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner, State Director of the New Mexico Office of USDA Rural Development.

We are at a critical juncture in New Mexico’s history as we approach our Centennial in 2012. Of great concern to us all should be how our rural communities will fare over the next 100 years. Will they continue to struggle or will we make the investments and decisions now to allow for their renewal and prosperity during the century ahead?

Before us lies an extraordinary opportunity, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the Stimulus), to make immediate and necessary investments in our rural communities.

The United States Department of Agriculture New Mexico Rural Development office saw funding increases in many of its programs as a result of the Stimulus. USDA Rural Development in New Mexico almost tripled its regular programmatic spending for dozens of new projects in Fiscal Year 2009 to $354 million. We hope to have another banner year in FY 2010 before the Stimulus expires in September.

As we see tight budgets at the state and local level in New Mexico there is no better time for New Mexico’s communities to consider USDA funding for their projects. USDA Rural Development offers programs in three areas: Community Development, Business and Housing.

Businesses and value added agricultural producers in New Mexico communities with a population less than 50,000 are eligible for our Business Programs. Most types of new or existing enterprises qualify -- manufacturing, wholesale, retail or service. We offer up to a 90% loan guarantee for bankable projects as large as $10 million and can provide smaller guarantees on proposals as high as $25 million. It is our goal to guarantee at least $29 million in business loan guarantees around New Mexico this fiscal year.

We also offer programs to help businesses and agricultural producers save on energy costs. Our Renewable Energy for America program allows USDA to cover 25% of any renewable energy or energy efficiency project for a rural business or an ag producer. If your farm or business hopes to install a new water heater, upgrade swamp coolers or even take advantage of solar, wind power or biodiesel; USDA would like to help with that investment.

For those producers that add value to an agricultural product, we provide up to $100,000 in grant funding for planning costs and up to $300,000 for working capital. Value added projects can include a wide variety of efforts such as turning tomatoes into salsa, carving wood products, and making a popcorn product from locally-grown corn.

On the community side, the stimulus program enhanced greatly our ability to loan and grant to communities less than 20,000 in population for community facilities. USDA Rural Development can invest in community facilities, such as: health care facilities, community centers, libraries, roads, emergency services, and community greenhouses -- just to name a few.

Water and Wastewater infrastructure is of tremendous importance to rural communities in our state. In communities under 10,000, USDA offers loans and grants to help with water and wastewater systems. Hundreds of New Mexico communities have participated in this program over the years and we are prepared to help many more.

To be competitive and innovative, rural communities need access to modern telecommunications. The stimulus set aside billions to increase broadband access in rural America and USDA Rural Development spent $199 million alone in rural New Mexico last year for broadband and telecommunications infrastructure. Not only do we invest in the first, middle and last mile of telecommunications infrastructure but we are very interested in supporting distance learning, telemedicine and other efforts that connect rural communities to the power of the internet.

When we talk about the sustainability of our rural communities, nothing says sustainability more than providing families the ability to make their home in rural New Mexico. In communities under 10,000, USDA provides home loans, home loan guarantees and grants for the construction, purchase or renovation of a home. More than 6,500 New Mexicans currently use our housing programs.

This is just a sample of the many programs USDA Rural Development has to offer. The Stimulus presents New Mexico with unprecedented opportunities to improve the quality of life in rural New Mexico and give rural communities the tools they need to prosper. The time to act is now, while federal agencies like the USDA have the resources to make more investments than ever. If you are interested in any of these programs, I hope you will contact the USDA Rural Development office in New Mexico at 505-761-4950.

This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner, who was appointed by President Barack Obama on September 3, 2009 to serve at State Director for the New Mexico Office of USDA Rural Development.

To submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

February 2, 2010 at 06:57 PM in Agriculture, Broadband, Business, Energy, Finance, Investments, Housing, Obama Administration, Rural Issues, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Stephen Jones: A Progressive Pathway through Tough Times in New Mexico

This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, who is a progressive political activist and a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Like many of New Mexico’s residents I am an immigrant. In my case I arrived in this “land of enchantment” as a former resident of the Midwest. When I made that passage, by highway, I came from the east to my current home in Las Cruces, I made the pivot from westbound I-40 and onto southbound I-25 and passed under Avenida César Chávez, a major thoroughfare in the city of Albuquerque, and something of a symbolic passage, for me, into a diverse state, that, unlike some of its neighbors, is proudly multicultural.

My passage from the Midwest to southern New Mexico is a route that has been followed by travelers, traders and settlers for centuries. As we all know, New Mexico’s position as the hub between the old Santa Fe trail to the east and the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro to the south established it historically as the center of trade between the United States and Latin America.

For our state the past ought to be prologue. As our legislators return to Santa Fe and Washington this month to face the States’ and Nations’ myriad difficulties, they need to begin to lay the groundwork for a brighter and more prosperous future. Despite our problems, our state is uniquely positioned among both our neighbors and those states further afield from us. We ought to face our challenges head on.

First among our comparative advantages, to use an economic concept, is the fact that New Mexico has the largest percentage, per capita, of bilingual speakers in the United States. This fact can, and should, place the state in a unique position to stand today as the pivot between emerging economies south of the border and the rest of the United States beyond New Mexico, much as it played that role, as the center of the trade exchange a century and a half ago.

To make New Mexico an economic winner in this marketplace we need the infrastructure and the educational opportunities to build and use that infrastructure. One area where our state needs to take the lead is in rural broadband. If corporations can “outsource” jobs and opportunity to India and the Philippines, they can just as easily “in-source” those jobs to New Mexico. However, to do so needs infrastructure and trained technicians to build and maintain that infrastructure, and further down the road, to innovate new avenues of communication.

Only government, both State and Federal, can make rural broadband a reality. There simply isn’t the market to support the extension of high speed telecommunications into small remote communities and make them profitable. In the absence of rural broadband we will continue to see the growth of poverty, and the continued, steady decline of traditional communities; a brain drain out of our state and dwindling tax revenues to support the rest of New Mexico’s long term needs.

Earlier this week USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner announced that rural development (RD) funding had almost tripled over Fiscal Year 2008, largely through the stimulus funding passed by Congress last year. Brunner announced that this years’ $354 million in RD funding paid for the “construction of water and wastewater systems, community facilities, business development, homeownership, electric and telecommunications projects.” Of this total over $199 million went to electric and telecommunications projects.

The New Mexico State Library also announced a $1.5 Million grant to fund its Fast Forward New Mexico initiative. This grant will be used to increase rural broadband adoption and promote computer literacy and Internet use among vulnerable populations, Hispanic and Native American users, small businesses, and entrepreneurs.  

These two announcements represent a good start, and are good examples of America’s tax dollars at work, but we must do more, much more, and we must act now. While building infrastructure is critical, so too must we provide the educational opportunities to teach new technologies in our schools, at local continuing education facilities and at our public libraries.

Secondly, our state needs to stop competing for the relocation of corporate entities with the use of tax credits unless those corporations actually produce the jobs to New Mexicans that they promised. These funds are better spent on small loans and grants to small companies and startups that will locate in New Mexico permanently and become good corporate citizens for the long term. These small businesses are the real engine that drives economic development and hires local labor. In conjunction with support for small business we need to step up our support for our two largest universities, UNM and NMSU, and partner with these universities to turn this state into a laboratory of economic development.

Our greatest economic asset is our natural environment. New Mexico is rich in renewable energy, and we need to insist that our elected officials take the lead on both green jobs and protection of the environment. Our friends in the gas and oil industry would have us believe that fighting climate change will cost us jobs and revenue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cap and trade legislation and other environmental protection initiatives are good for New Mexico and will help propel our state into the leadership in the jobs of the future.

Another of our great environmental assets is our vast expanses of natural lands. Our two Senators have taken the lead in working toward expanding the designated wilderness areas of our state, but we need to do more. The Organ Mountain Wilderness proposal is finally on track toward passage, but the Otero Mesa needs to be protected as well, and, and we need to protect these grasslands now. Other natural areas need to be protected and developed with an eye toward both conservation and attracting visitors.

Wilderness protection and good stewardship of our natural areas builds and promotes tourism, and as any resident of the city of Santa Fe can tell you, tourism drives our local economies and provides real jobs to New Mexicans that stay in New Mexico.

As our representatives return to work in Santa Fe and Washington, we need to remind them that, while addressing serious problems that currently face our State and Federal budgets, there are more budgets coming down the road, just ahead, and they need to begin to plan for our long term future, and our children’s and grandchildren’s future as well.

New Mexico’s natural and human resources are our greatest asset. Let us build on them.

To read more posts by contributing writer Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

January 8, 2010 at 02:37 AM in Broadband, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Education, Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Hispanic Issues, Jobs, Land Issues, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

NM Delegation Announces $1.4 Million+ in Recovery Funding for Broadband Access

Members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation released a joint statement today announcing that the New Mexico State Library has been awarded $1,457,488 in recovery funding to expand broadband technology and access across New Mexico. The “Fast Forward New Mexico” program, administered through a partnership with the University of New Mexico, Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship, and the 1st-Mile Institute, aims to increase statewide broadband adoption and promote computer literacy and Internet use in rural, Hispanic and Native American populations. The initiative will also reach out to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The program will host small group trainings at public and Tribal libraries in 15 communities across the state. Additionally, programs will be developed for first-time computer users to address computer literacy and Internet usage. The New Mexico State Library will also provide training in computer and Internet use for small organizations and business owners. According to the Department of Commerce, Fast Forward New Mexico is estimated to result in 3,000 new household broadband subscribers, 1,000 new business and institutional broadband subscribers, and 3,200 new users at public computer centers.

Each of our U.S. House and U.S. Senate members weighed in on the importance of such funding:

“Internet access is no longer a luxury, it’s an important part of our everyday lives. We must work to ensure that all parts of our state have Internet access so that students and businesses alike have the tools they need to succeed,” Senator Jeff Bingaman said. “By making Internet access available to the public, our state’s libraries are providing an extremely important service. This grant will help them reach out to even more New Mexicans.”

“Bridging the digital divide for rural residents and diverse communities is key to spurring small business growth and expanding educational opportunities in our state,” said Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “I am pleased New Mexico is one of the first recipients of these broadband stimulus grants that will help bring 21st Century tools to our citizens.”

“Rural and tribal communities are often left behind in the technology innovation race. By introducing these communities to broadband technology, not only can we increase educational opportunities, but we can also boost our small businesses and local economies,” Congressman Harry Teague said. “Investments in broadband programs foster long-term opportunities for competition and economic growth.”

"Extending broadband throughout New Mexico will help our businesses grow, our children learn, and our communities stay informed," said Congressman Ben Ray Luján. "I am encouraged by this important grant, and I look forward to exploring opportunities to improve and expand broadband to ensure that our communities--from rural towns to larger cities--have reliable internet access."

“The world of information technology is vast, and vital to education and business development,” said Congressman Martin Heinrich. “By connecting rural New Mexicans with improved access to the Internet, we open the door to endless possibilities for learning and inspiring entrepreneurship and economic growth.”

The funding in New Mexico is part of a nation-wide federal effort to expand and improve broadband technologies. The National Economic Council today released a report, “Recovery Act Investment in Broadband: Leveraging Federal Dollars to Create Jobs and Connect America,” which found that Recovery Act investments in broadband will create tens of thousands of jobs in the near term and expand opportunities and economic development in communities that would otherwise be left behind in the new knowledge-based economy. A copy of the report can be viewed HERE.

December 17, 2009 at 05:00 PM in Broadband, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Teague to Join Rural Development Event in Tatum on Monday to Celebrate Loan for Expanded Broadband

HTeagueCr USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner announced yesterday that Congressman Harry Teague will join him to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Rural Development’s telecommunications program during a check presentation event for a loan to the LEACO Rural Telephone Cooperative at 10:00 AM on Monday, October 26th, at the Tatum Community Center, 508 East Ash.

In making the announcement Brunner said, “The $57.8 million dollar award to LEACO is representative of the 60 year commitment made to rural America by USDA Rural Development.” Brunner added, “We’ve had a major impact on the everyday lives to the citizens of New Mexico. Over the past 60 years we’ve provided millions of dollars in loan and grants to build the infrastructure for communications, electricity and water and waste water systems in rural communities across New Mexico.”

USDA’s rural telephone loan program was established in 1949 to expand upon the Rural Electrification Administration’s success in bringing electricity to rural America. As did the electrification program, the telephone program fueled economic growth for millions of rural families and businesses by providing connectivity as well as access to business and emergency services.

The telecommunications program anniversary will be commemorated with the commitment of a $57,827,000 loan being made to the LEACO Rural Telephone Cooperative based in Hobbs. “The loan funds will bring new and improved telecommunications services to rural residents in Lea County and in turn residents will have a state-of-the-art communications service which will promote business development, increase job opportunities and improve access to educational services,” said Brunner.

The loan to LEACO is being made through the Rural Development Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, which provides low-interest loans to deploy broadband and telecommunications services to rural communities of 20,000 residents or less, with first priority going to areas without broadband.

Further information on the telecommunications program and other rural programs can be obtained by calling 505-761-4950 or by visiting USDA’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov .

October 24, 2009 at 11:17 AM in Broadband, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Rural Issues, Telecommunications | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Udall Announces ABQ Firm to Receive $1 Million to Expand Rural Broadband Access

Senator Tom Udall announced yesterday that the Albuquerque business Agavue, LLC will receive $1.12 million to build computer centers in Cerillos and Manzano. These centers will each contain 10 computers with printers, technical support and high speed broadband Internet service, according to a statement released by Udall's office.

In addition to the wireless broadband services that will be made available to the community residents, the Community Connect centers will provide employment opportunities as well as training on Internet usage.

“Broadband access is an essential tool for economic development in New Mexico’s rural communities. This funding will provide for new technology centers equipped with computers and a staff to teach new users how navigate the Internet,” Udall said. “I commend Agavue’s efforts to spread broadband access to all corners of the state.”

The funding will comes from two grants administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service Community Connect Broadband Grant Program.

“We are extremely pleased by the confidence that Rural Utilities Service has shown in our company to deliver this much needed new broadband internet service to these two deserving communities. We will begin immediately building our new WiFi broadband network to Cerillos and Manzano,” Scott Schooley, CEO of Agavue, LLC said.

Agavue, LLC is one of the largest Internet service providers in New Mexico.

October 16, 2009 at 10:31 AM in Broadband, NM Congressional Delegation, Rural Issues, Sen. Tom Udall, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)