NRECA’s Matheson on SOTU: Find Common Ground, Work Together for Needs of Rural America

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s State of the Union address:

“Rural America is counting on policymakers to find common ground and work together to address the needs of rural communities — needs that transcend politics and demand compromise and collaboration,” said Matheson. “Improving our nation’s aging infrastructure is a great place to start.

“In the 21st century economy, updated roads and bridges have diminished value if they lead to rural communities that lack modern infrastructure like broadband access. It’s important for policymakers to work together and explore new infrastructure initiatives to help maintain and modernize the electric grid and bridge the digital divide.

“Electric cooperatives work arm in arm with more than 42 million Americans and serve as engines of economic development throughout their communities. We stand ready to work with every policymaker who shares our goal of a brighter future for rural America.”

According to the FCC, an estimated 24 million rural Americans lack broadband internet access. More than 100 electric cooperatives are working to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband to their communities. Hundreds more are conducting broadband deployment feasibility studies.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.