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01/11/2017

Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Department of Employment and Economic Development Announce $34 Million for 42 Broadband Projects Across Greater Minnesota

New round of grants will expand high-speed internet access to 16,627 households, 2,240 businesses, and 71 community institutions in Greater Minnesota

New state grant funding will leverage an additional $40 million in private and local funding to help level the playing field for Greater Minnesota households and business

State grant program has invested a total of $66 million, provided 25,949 households, 3,176 businesses, and 244 community institutions broadband access since 2014

Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) today announced grants totaling $34 million for 42 broadband infrastructure projects that will provide 16,627 households, 2,240 businesses, and 71 community institutions across Minnesota access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.

LOCAL BROADBAND GRANTS

Martin County (with Frontier), Rural Broadband Initiative – $1.68 million. This project will serve 1,784 unserved households, 51 unserved businesses and nine unserved community institutions in Martin County. Frontier Communications will partner with Martin County to provide services that will attract economic development and make businesses more competitive. The total eligible project cost is $3.5 million, with a $1.82 million local match.

Granada Telephone Co. (dba BEVCOMM), South Rural Granada – $157,920. This project will serve 26 unserved households and 14 unserved businesses in the rural Granada area in Martin County. Granada Telephone will provide advanced broadband services to farms and residences in the area. The total eligible project cost is $394,800, with a $236,880 local match.

Blue Earth Valley Telephone Co. (dba BEVCOMM), Rural Winnebago – $152,828. This project will serve 18 unserved households (including farms), 8 unserved businesses, 2 underserved households and three underserved businesses in rural Winnebago in Faribault County. Blue Earth Valley Telephone will improve services that will help livestock and grain farmers in the region. The total eligible project cost is $382,070, with a $229,242 local match.

The new state funding will help level the playing field for households and businesses in Greater Minnesota by providing them access the same opportunities available to urban area residents. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith secured the $34 million to expand high-speed internet access during the 2016 Legislative Session, after first proposing a $100 million investment.

“This expansion of broadband that we are announcing today will level the playing field and expand education, health and job opportunities for thousands of Minnesotans. It’s not fair when almost 20 percent of Greater Minnesota households don’t have access to opportunity because they don’t have the same broadband connections as their friends and family in the cities,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “We are fixing this: since we started, $66 million in public investment has been matched by over $81.7 million in private funding. This expansion of broadband has connected doctors to patients, students to school, people to jobs, and farmers and businesses to data and markets around the world. Governor Dayton and I will continue to advocate for high speed, affordable, reliable internet access during the 2017 Legislative Session until everyone is connected.”

Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Program provides internet providers grants to expand broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved. The funding pays for up to 50 percent of the cost of developing broadband for improved high-speed internet in communities across the state.

“These grants will make it possible for people, businesses and institutions throughout Greater Minnesota to have access to high-speed internet,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “Broadband is an important economic development tool that will improve people’s quality of life and make businesses more competitive.”

Dayton-Smith Administration’s Broadband Investment

Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith have proposed $151 million in funding to expand affordable, reliable broadband internet access in Greater Minnesota since 2014. The Dayton-Smith Administration has secured a total of $66 million in total for broadband infrastructure expansion. This funding expanded reliable, afford broadband access to 25,949 households, 3,176 businesses, and 244 community institutions in Greater Minnesota. More information about projects funded in 2014 and 2015 can be found here.

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, a nonpartisan group charged with analyzing Minnesota’s broadband needs, recommended $100 million in on-going biennial funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program in its 2016 Annual Report. In 2015, the Task Force determined a total investment of at least $900 million is needed to ensure that all Minnesotans have broadband internet regardless of where they live.


ROD HALVORSEN
© 2015 KSUM KFMC


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