Last week the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBCs) met for a two-day kick off meeting in Grand Rapids. It was pretty exciting to have so many community leaders from across Minnesota with a shared passion for broadband.
Each community has a different set of assets, challenges and goals – but we saw a lot of overlap too.
All of the communities had uneven access to broadband; for most that meant decent to good access in town and slower speeds on the outskirts. Almost every community had one sector that was doing well with broadband – often the school, health care or local government. And everyone had residents on the far side of the digital divide.
We heard from potential statewide partners who had tools to help each community close the gaps or build up strengths. We heard from past MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) leaders about what worked and what didn’t in their communities. To a person each commented that people and passion really drove success.
My favorite part of the retreat was hearing from each community about what in their community makes them proud. I wanted to share this list – partially as an introduction to the new BBCs but also to encourage other communities to start their broadband plans my thinking about their strengths and how broadband can make them stronger!
- Strong cultural identity
- Economic success
- Strong family connections
- Outdoor beauty and activities
- Growing arts and culture
- Positive leaders and involved community
- Young professionals returning
- Higher ed opportunities
- Strong sense of cultural heritage
- Strong values
- Classic series: ski, bike, canoe and run Access to quality health care
- Numerous outdoor recreational opportunities
Lac qui Parle Valley
- Strong sense of community
- Shared forward thinking leadership
- Good basic infrastructure to succeed
- Diverse local partner
- Fiber network
- Bucket list destination place
- Beautiful natural resources
- Good schools
Lake of the Woods County
- Diverse economy
- Education – great schools
- Health care – new hospital, clinic, lab all integrated MBO
Mille Lacs County
- Working together
- ARMER/Technology Updates
- Opportunity for Growth
- Community Involvement
- Education readiness
- Renewable energy
- Great economy
- Available fiber
- Strong farm economy