The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that it will award a $6.18 million grant to MidSouth Electric Co-op for the construction of fiber-optic cable infrastructure. The funds are available through the USDA’s ReConnect Program, which was created to facilitate broadband deployment and bridge the digital divide in rural America.
This funding will make broadband service a reality for the MidSouth EC service area. High-speed fiber internet is an economic engine that our students and community need to prosper.
The grant will accelerate the build-out of the MidSouth Fiber project. Contractors will now be able to work for longer periods of time, which will minimize cost over the long term.
The grant funding was made possible, in part, by the concentrated efforts of many of your elected officials, including Rep. Kevin Brady, who crafted two letters to the USDA in support of MidSouth EC’s efforts to bring much-needed fiber internet service to its service area.
“Many of my constituents, in the Eighth Congressional District of Texas, live in rural communities and are impacted by the lack of high-speed internet,” Brady wrote. “Access to broadband is no longer a luxury in our society, it is fundamental to agriculture enterprises and economic development. Broadband increases health care access by providing telehealth and telemedicine options; and empowers broader education and training opportunities that stimulate a more skilled workforce.”
Brady has been committed to helping MidSouth EC accomplish our goal of providing quality service at a reasonable price to our area since he was elected in 1997. He has visited with employees of MidSouth EC on several occasions and even attended the annual member meeting. With mutually beneficial support, we will continue to serve the best interests of our community together.
Brady focuses on issues that impact your cooperative, including the RURAL Act, which preserved cooperatives’ tax-exempt status; employee retirement protections; rural broadband internet; and the best interests of co-op members.
Gov. Greg Abbott also wrote a letter to the USDA in support of the MidSouth Fiber project. Abbott has consistently supported electric cooperatives in their efforts to serve rural communities. He maintains a clear focus on issues that affect Texans every day, including property tax reform, his “Front of the Line” veterans policy, crime prevention, protecting Texans and punishing criminals. Abbott has worked closely with Sen. Ted Cruz; state Sens. Brandon Creighton, Lois Kolkhorst and Robert Nichols; and state Reps. Ben Leman, Cecil Bell, Ernest Bailes, John Raney, Kyle Kacal, Trent Ashby and Will Metcalf. The work of your elected representatives is critical to helping MidSouth EC fulfill its mission, and we thank them for their continued support.
Part of Kerry Kelton’s role as CEO of your electric cooperative is to work with elected officials so that MidSouth EC can continue serving members in the most efficient way possible. Kelton serves as chairman of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s government relations committee and routinely visits with political figures in our local, state and national governments. He enjoys this aspect of serving you and appreciates your support and trust to help make service like fiber internet a reality for our area.