The Blandin Broadband Breakfast Briefing yesterday was great event. It was well attended with 80 or so people. There were legislators, providers, Blandin Foundation partners, MIRC partners, community leaders and more.
On her way out, Karen Welle (from the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care) noted that it was nice to see how the broadband conversation has progressed in the last few years. Being in the thick of it, I hadn’t noticed so I appreciated her comment.
Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon did a nice job framing the issue. She hit on a few notes that resounded throughout the day. Ubiquity is essential. A recent report from Minnesota Rural Partners demonstrates that there is a direct connection between rural investment and urban economy. In that respect, ubiquity is not only a rural issue.
There were some other issues that came up as well:
- Broadband is essential for economic development. No one wants to move their family or their company to a town without broadband.
- Partnership pushes us forward. We heard from a couple providers and a couple community leaders. Federal funding helped spur some partnerships – but even without it, success could be a powerful incentive to work together.
- The Minnesota Broadband Bill, the report from the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Task Force and the maps are tools that communities and policymakers can and are using to plan and deploy broadband – including digital inclusion and adoption programs.
One of the most valuable takeaways was a White Paper, prepared for the state legislators by the Blandin Broadband Strategy Board. I also have notes from two of the speakers, Gary Evans (at Hiawatha Broadband) and Danna Mackenzie (from Cook County). All of the speakers did a great job – it was nice to hear from a range of stakeholders.