BRENTWOOD, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tractor Supply Company, the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, announced today that it is joining the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition (ACPBC or “Coalition”) to bring high-speed internet infrastructure to rural areas. By joining the Coalition, Tractor Supply will look to leverage its resources to help bridge the rural digital divide. Through the Tractor Supply Company Foundation, the Company will donate $1 for every download of its mobile app before the end of the year (12/31), up to $1 million, to the efforts of the American Connection Project to close the digital divide. The initiative is one of several the Company is pursuing in its effort to increase internet connectivity in rural communities across the U.S.
“As the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, Tractor Supply is committed to supporting those who live and love this lifestyle,” said Hal Lawton, President and CEO of Tractor Supply. “Internet connectivity is vital to conducting business, accessing healthcare and learning across America, yet our rural communities seldom have it. Our nation relies heavily on these communities, so it is imperative we all work together to ensure they have what they need to thrive. By joining the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition and participating in these initiatives to close the digital gap, we are striving to do just that.”
“Like Land O’Lakes and so many of our partners in the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, Tractor Supply Company understands that strong businesses are enabled by strong communities that provide strong operating environments,” said Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “The coronavirus pandemic has shown how dependent we all are on being connected to one another, and how much those who lack reliable internet access are at risk of falling behind. We are enormously grateful that Tractor Supply is joining our coalition, and we look forward to working with them to close the digital divide.”
The Federal Communications Commission estimates that roughly 18 million Americans lack access to broadband, the majority of whom are in rural America. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, roughly 60% of farmers in the U.S. lack sufficient connectivity to run their business, while 25% of farms have no internet access whatsoever. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, internet connectivity has become even more important, providing the primary link to business transactions, online classes, telehealth appointments, social interactions and news.
American Connection Project Broadband Coalition
Tractor Supply joins more than 100 organizations from multiple industries including agriculture, tech, finance, healthcare, education and more, who are members of the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, which was spearheaded by farmer-owned cooperative Land O’Lakes, Inc. Officially launched in July 2020, the Coalition spans organizations across multiple industries, who are dedicated to helping close America’s digital divide. The ACPBC advocates for public and private sector investment to bring high-speed internet infrastructure to areas that lack access, in addition to advocating for policies and contributing their own resources to facilitate remote education, health and mental health services, job opportunities and more, with the goal of connecting and lifting up all American communities through access to modern digital technology.
$1 Donation for Every App Download
In early July, Tractor Supply launched its first-ever mobile app to provide a more convenient way for customers to shop their favorite products straight from their mobile device without relying on a computer or Wi-Fi.
While customers can now shop more seamlessly thanks to the mobile app, Tractor Supply recognizes that a lack of reliable internet connectivity affects all facets of life, especially in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To help alleviate the challenges customers face, the Tractor Supply Company Foundation is committing $1 for every app download before the end of the year (12/31) – up to $1 million – to support broadband improvements in rural areas such as access points through the 4-H organization, libraries and county extension offices.
The app, which helps customers shop faster, track orders, schedule deliveries and check Neighbor’s Club rewards, is available through the Apple Store or on Google Play. The Company is actively rolling out new features to the app to improve shopping convenience and accessibility.
Public Wi-Fi Access at Select Stores
Tractor Supply is also working to bring broadband access to rural areas through its partnership with fellow ACPBC member Microsoft on its Airband Initiative, which seeks to close the digital divide and extend broadband access to over 3 million unserved people in rural America by July 2022. As part of this program, Tractor Supply will pilot free Wi-Fi access from select store parking lots during operating hours. This will allow the public to have high-speed internet access, excluding streaming capabilities, from the privacy and social distance of their vehicles.
Initial pilots with Airband partner Internet Service Providers at Tractor Supply stores have shown success – in Lima, Ohio, with Watch Communications and Stephenville, Texas, with NextLink Internet. With a store base of 1,900 stores across 49 states, Tractor Supply anticipates the potential rollout of public Wi-Fi to continue across its store footprint based on its experience with the initial stores in the pilot.
Chromebooks for Team Members’ Families
To alleviate additional challenges families in rural areas face from the shift to virtual learning, Tractor Supply has provided – free of charge – 3,000 Chromebook computers to hourly Team Members with school-age children.
“Distance learning is difficult for any family, but perhaps even more so for our many Team Member families who live in these rural areas,” Lawton explained. “Closing the digital divide will be an ongoing process, but providing new, high-speed equipment is something we can do immediately to make this difficult transition just a bit easier.”
For more information about the donation initiative as well as all of Tractor Supply’s efforts to support rural communities, visit Corporate.TractorSupply.com/Community.
About Tractor Supply Company
Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ: TSCO), the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, has been passionate about serving its unique niche, as a one-stop shop for recreational farmers, ranchers and all those who enjoy living the rural lifestyle, for more than 80 years. Tractor Supply offers an extensive mix of products necessary to care for home, land, pets and animals with a focus on product localization, exclusive brands and legendary customer service that addresses the needs of the Out Here lifestyle. With more than 38,000 Team Members, the Company leverages its physical store assets with digital capabilities to offer customers the convenience of purchasing products they need anytime, anywhere and any way they choose at the everyday low prices they deserve. At June 27, 2020, the Company operated 1,881 Tractor Supply stores in 49 states and an e-commerce website at www.TractorSupply.com.
Tractor Supply Company also owns and operates Petsense, a small-box pet specialty supply retailer focused on meeting the needs of pet owners, primarily in small and mid-size communities, and offering a variety of pet products and services. At June 27, 2020, the Company operated 180 Petsense stores in 25 states. For more information on Petsense, visit www.Petsense.com.
About Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2019 annual sales of $14 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 232 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 99 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Truterra. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minnesota.
About Microsoft Airband
Microsoft’s Airband Initiative is an effort to close the digital divide and bring broadband access to 3 million people in unserved rural communities in the United States by July 2022. The Airband Initiative combines private–sector capital investment in new technologies and rural broadband deployments with public–sector financial and regulatory support. More information can be found at News.Microsoft.com/Rural-Broadband.
About American Connection Project Broadband Coalition
The American Connection Project Broadband Coalition represents more than 100 companies and organizations who are working together to bring high-speed internet access to all U.S. households, with a focus on those in rural areas. The Coalition understands that digital connectivity is not a luxury, but rather is a lifeline for education, health, modern food production, and economic growth. Drawing from their cross-sector expertise and experience in rural communities, the members are making private investments to bridge the digital divide while advocating at the state and federal levels for permanent solutions. More information can be found at AmericanConnectionProject.com.