NineStar Connect Receives $2.3 Million From USDA to Promote Economic Development in Hancock County

For immediate release
Linda Muskin, 847-432-7300
Mara Conklin, 847-816-9411

GREENFIELD, Ind., June 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — NineStar Connect, a smart utility providing water, sewer, electric and high-speed fiber services, received $2.3 million in loan and grant funds through the Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant Program(REDLG) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The $2 million loan and $300,000 grant amounts are the highest awarded via the program, and NineStar Connect is the first rural telecommunications cooperative in over a decade to receive the funds. Click to Tweet.

The REDLG program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations. The USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses for projects that promote economic development, and create and retain employment in rural areas. NineStar’s $2.3 million award is more than double the program’s average loan amount of $900,000.

NineStar Connect plans to provide the zero-interest funds to Hancock Health for help in building an ambulatory care center with a freestanding urgent care and diagnostic center at Interstate 70 and Mount Comfort Road, in Hancock County. Funds will be used to purchase medical equipment and supplies for the facility, including computer hardware and software. The new healthcare facility will connect to NineStar’s countywide high-speed fiber network.

The new Mount Comfort Corridor facility is part of Hancock Regional Hospital’s broader economic development strategy for Hancock County and is one of the areas addressed in the Urban Lands Institute study for controlled growth, according to Steve Long, president and CEO of Hancock Health and Hancock Regional Hospital. “Phase I is the Hancock Health facility, and Phase II will be a campus with mixed use development, including commercial, retail and affordable residential housing. REDLG funding used in Phase I of the medical facility will help ensure we can begin Phase II.”

The Hancock Regional Hospital facility will create the need for the equivalent of 27 full-time employees, including medical technicians, phlebotomists, diagnostic imaging technicians, nurse practitioners, certified medical assistants, financial counselors, and receptionists. The broader campus will create even more jobs.

Hancock Health eventually will repay NineStar Connect, which will return the funds to the USDA at the end of the 10-year loan term. The grant funds will be made available to Hancock Health as revolving loan funds, and will be repaid to NineStar Connect, which matches 20 percent of the grant. Once repaid, the $300,000 grant will remain in the community and can be given again by NineStar Connect to another organization to promote economic development in Hancock County.

“NineStar is providing critical services to residents and businesses across Hancock County,” U.S. Rep. Greg Pence said. “We are excited that the USDA recognizes the important work being done here, and we know this money will be put to good use.”

“We are grateful to the USDA for this valuable program, which enables NineStar Connect to invest in important projects that promote economic development and create jobs, while meeting the growing healthcare needs in the region,” said Mike Burrow, President & CEO of NineStar Connect.

About NineStar Connect
NineStar Connect is a smart utility located in Hancock County, Ind. The only rural co-op in the United States to offer fiber optic, electricity, water and sewer services, NineStar Connect’s mission is to deliver the utility infrastructure needed to drive economic development and growth for rural communities. More information is available at

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