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USDA Invests in Rural Minnesota Education and Health Care
Minnesota Ag Connection - 12/03/2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad Monday announced more than $730,000 for two projects that will expand access to education and health care opportunities in rural Minnesota.

"Distance learning and telemedicine opportunities provide residents in remote areas with services that may have otherwise not been possible," Finstad said. "Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Perdue and Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Donald "DJ" LaVoy, USDA is dedicated to the partnerships that help make projects like these a reality."

Education Innovation Partners Cooperative Center is receiving a $500,000 grant to provide distance learning services to 28 sites across six Minnesota counties: Aitkin, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis. USDA's investment will enable approximately 1,500 teachers to provide distance learning opportunities for 21,000 students, annually.

CentraCare Health System is receiving a $234,648 grant to establish a telemedicine project and address the shortage of specialty care physicians in rural areas. Video equipment will be placed at 10 locations in eight central Minnesota counties: Kandiyohi, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Renville, Stearns, Swift, Todd, and Wadena. An additional 73 individual patient sites will be added as a result of this project with an estimated additional 2,000 patients served over the project's two-year period.

Finstad's announcement is in coordination with Deputy Under Secretary LaVoy's recent announcement that USDA is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

USDA is providing the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program. These investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents.

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