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Kentucky is one of five states where the Biden administration will test out a new 'Rural Partners Network'

Patrick Semansky/AP
President Joe Biden waves to members of the press as he walks to a motorcade vehicle after stepping off Air Force One, Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Biden is returning to Washington after promoting his infrastructure agenda in New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Biden administration has chosen to debut a new network aimed at better connecting rural communities with federal resources in the commonwealth.

Led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the network is part of a government-wide effort to make sure rural communities actually benefit from the billions in federal funds meant for investment in high-speed internet, clean drinking water, reliable electricity, and infrastructure improvements.

While those dollars are available, rural communities sometimes lack the staff and resources to access them.

So the administration is placing new federal field staff in 25 rural communities in Kentucky, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, and New Mexico. The goal is to help local officials navigate federal programs and identify unique challenges in those regions. The White House is describing the network as a way for rural areas to have a “direct line to D.C.”

The administration says the effort will change business as usual and better coordinate technical assistance to rural communities, share rural data and measures of success, and align grant requirements.

In Kentucky, the Rural Partners program will operate – at least initially – in Bell, Clay, Fulton, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry, and Whitley counties.

Read more about the Rural Partners Network

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.