Today I attended two meetings in Montevideo. My primary reason for being there was to attend the first regional meeting to discuss the Broadband Fund. Danna MacKenzie and Diane Wells from the Office of Broadband Development spoke to 20-25 people about the upcoming opportunity for funding.
The information shared was very similar to info from the webinar a couple weeks ago. I’ve included the PPT and questions below. The big take away – it’s not too early to get working on a proposal if you plan to apply.
Late Sept 2014 – announce program details and open application process
Application process will be open for 30 days
Oct-Nov 2014 – 6 week application review process
Challenge window – first two weeks of review process
December – make awards
Official RFP will be available once the application process is actually open. (Late
If you want funding – start the process now.
We know we can’t fund everything but this list will be used to make the case to legislature that more funding is needed.
If you are looking at forming a new entity to receive funds? Start that now.
We don’t’ need detailed engineering designs. We need high level and enough to make judgments.
The Broadband Rural Experiments are due October 14. They are looking for efficient applications. The timing doesn’t fit with the MN funding very well but it’s another route. It will be difficult to marry the programs but we’re trying to work to support
The FCC requires voice service. The state funding does not.
Is this ongoing funding?
This is one time funding. BUT the idea is to continue the conversation.
Is in-kind funding allowed?
Yes. But you will get more points if it’s a cash match.
What if you use your own staff for construction? (Do we invoice ourselves?)
We can take that into consideration.
How will geographic dispersion be handled?
It will depend on the applications we receive. We need to consider geography.
Does it have to be a Minnesota entity to be eligible?
We are looking into it; there may be a SD option for this area.
What if the challenge (served vs unserved) lasts longer than 6 weeks?
The challenge process is totally separate; we will judge applications and do review process. If no resolution in 6 weeks we’ll get everyone in a room and figure it out.
** If you have questions about maps start working with Connect MN on it now!
We are expecting flood disaster relief would that help get disadvantaged points?
It’s not one of the specified areas, but please do include that information. It might help.
The anchor tenants are covered in many areas. How can we address that?
We are looking at the imprint of the anchor institute so maybe you increase the speeds or maybe providing wireless to anchor tenants clients.
Will applications be made available?
Name of applicant and boundaries served will be made available immediately for challenge purposed. .The grant application will be eventually made public. Maps and some financial info will not become public data. DEED already a process for that.
Are there state laws for wages for people hired?
There are state requirements for wages akin to David Bacon.
MVTV has ARRA funding (as did Farmers). We did 6 wireless networks across 10,000 square miles. Does the state funding cover over build networks?
The state follow the legislature. The law defines an un-served vs under-served area.
I also attended a meeting hosted by DEED, a conversation on economic development in Southwest Minnesota. The folks from DEED came to talk about talent, innovation and trade. The issue in Southwest Minnesota is having enough people (sometimes the right people) to fill the local jobs. The community needs housing, childcare and training programs that meet the needs of local employers. (Geothermal training would be welcome.)
It’s interesting juxtapose these very hands-on issues with a broadband solution. I remember when all discussions led to jobs; maybe broadband has helped shift the discussion.