USDA invests $288 million in rural infrastructure projects in Missouri

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the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing in critical infrastructure in rural Missouri, from electricity and broadband to water systems, with more than $288 million in investments across the state.

Local water and sewer systems will benefit from the Water and Wastewater Disposal Loan and Grant Scheme, while six electricity cooperatives are set to receive funds through the the USDA. USDA Rural Development Missouri State Director Kyle Wilkens said the investment will have lasting economic benefits for the Show-Me state.

“Infrastructure is more than just laying pipes in the ground and cables on poles,” Wilkens said. “By investing in modern infrastructure, rural development is investing in the lives of people in rural Missouri. This infrastructure allows our small towns to have the best possible access to clean water, well-paying jobs, and high-speed internet, all of which help boost rural economies and build a better America.

Sac-Osage Electric Cooperative has been approved for more than $50 million in loans to install and operate 2,302 miles of fiber internet infrastructure in southwestern Missouri.

Electric co-ops have been at the forefront of Missouri’s fight against rural broadband for years, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic moved more and more from daily life online.

“Co-operatives know more than any other organization how important broadband is to rural Missouri,” said Caleb Jones, executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC), previously told the Missouri Times. “This is the future of economic development and success in rural Missouri, and we are committed to working together to ensure Missouri can continue to succeed.”

Associated Electric Cooperative in Springfield received approval for a $78 million loan to upgrade its power generation systems.

Ozark Border Electric Cooperative — which serves 11 counties, including Poplar Bluff — will use a $53 million loan to connect 2,160 members and build and improve 403 miles of line. It will also invest in improving the network.

Three Rivers Electric will reinforce 151 miles of line with a $25 million loan, while Howell-Oregon Electric has been approved to spend $50 million on 90 miles of line. Three Rivers and Howell-Oregon were also allowed to invest in smart grid upgrades for their service areas.

Crawford Electric will spend $30 million to build and reinforce 124 miles of line serving nearly 1,400 members.

The Town of Matthews received a $1.2 million loan and $600,000 grant to upgrade its water production and distribution systems, including new water meters and well controls.

Laclede County First Water Supply District secured a $300,000 loan to rehabilitate storage tanks and electronically map the city’s water distribution system, among other improvements.

The investments are part of a national allocation unveiled this week. The USDA has committed $5.2 billion to rural infrastructure projects in 46 states and Puerto Rico to align with the economic priorities of the Biden administration.

Massive infrastructure investments in Missouri are underway as touted by President Joe Biden in Missouri last week.

the the state is expected to see $100 million for broadband infrastructure and $99 million over five years to expand its electric vehicle (EV) charging network from the massive federal infrastructure package enacted last month.

Missouri is also expected to receive about $866 million for water infrastructure improvements in the state.

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