Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 23, 2014

MN Telecom Alliance Fall Conference Oct 9-10

This is always a good conference to sponsor and attend…

MTA 2014 Fall Conference

It is time to think about fall. Kids are back at school, the Vikings season has begun, we have cooler temperatures, and most importantly… the MTA FALL CONFERENCE is coming!

This year’s event will open with an exciting lineup on Thursday. We have invited gubernatorial candidates Mark Dayton and Jeff Johnson to share their ideas with us. We have also invited Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Senate Minority Leader David Hann to participate in a panel discussion on the 2014 session, the 2015 session and their views on the upcoming elections. We have also invited representatives of the new Office of Broadband Development to talk about their activities. You will hear from the newest Public Utilities Commissioner, Dan Lipschultz.

Keeping up with a tradition we started a few years ago, the MTA Event Planning Committee and staff have been working with the Video and IT Peer Groups for more opportunities to learn. Friday morning continues with separate tracks giving attendees the most current, up-to-date information on Video and IT. Know you want to attend, but don’t know which sessions you want to attend? It doesn’t matter; you can mix and match sessions to meet your individual needs.

Check out the bios for Networking Reception speaker Joe Schmit and General Session speaker Rich Chapman.


Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 23, 2014

Should the FCC define broadband? Yes!

Pots and Pans posted an interesting article yesterday on Comments received by the FCC regarding the definition of broadband. They remark…

I’ve been reading through the comments in FCC Docket 14-126 that asks the question if the FCC should increase the definition of broadband. The comments are sticking mostly to the expected script. It seems that all of the large incumbents think the current definition of 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload are just fine. And just about everybody else thinks broadband should be something faster. In the Docket the FCC suggested that a low-use home today needs 4 Mbps download, a moderate-use home needs 7.9 Mbps and a high-use home needs 10 Mbps.

The big players seem to be saying that there is no need for definition or regulation because providers are already moving to fiber. That’s true in areas where there is a market case to develop a fiber network. And that covers a whole heck of a lot of the US — but for areas where a market case is difficult to make the definition and the regulation are imperative.

In Minnesota we can see that very directly in the Minnesota Broadband Fund. The official applications and requirements aren’t out yet – but what the Office of Broadband Development has been saying in that priority will go to unserved and underserved areas (probably in that order). Unserved is a community that doesn’t meet the federal definition of broadband at 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Underserved is a community that doesn’t meet the state definition of broadband at 10-20 Mbps down and 5-10 Mbps up.

These numbers weren’t pulled from a hat — they were pulled from governmental definitions of broadband. The definition sets a standard and once a standard is set it becomes a no-brainer benchmark for funding and regulations.

To not change the definition of broadband is tantamount to not defining it in an industry that sees changes happen so quickly. And that’s a slippery slope in an industry that also receives so much government support – in terms of Connect American Funding, USDA/RUS loans and now an increasing amount of state funding. I know the big providers make huge investments – investments that probably dwarf the government funding available. And again where there’s a business case they meet the needs of the people but for the areas that lack a business case these numbers are important. We don’t regulate generally for best case scenario in any sector, we regulate to prevent or minimize worst cases scenario.

Some folks ask – why should we care about those places where there is no business case? By definition those areas tend to be remote and sparsely populated – but those are also areas where we get food (ie farms), where we spend government money on services that could be provided more cheaply via broadband (ie telemedicine) and where consumers live who could be buying your products, if only they could get and stay online through the purchase process.

Last week, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) visited Crookston to discuss local government aid, economic development, job training, broadband and housing concerns. According to the Crookston Times, here’s what they said about broadband…

Only 45 percent of greater or rural Minnesota meets state needs of broadband or Internet connections. The state is ranked 23rd of all the United States in broadband coverage and speed.

“We would like to see cities in greater Minnesota submit any proposals they might have for broadband,” explained Peterson. “With government only approving $20 million, it’s not going to go too far. If the state sees a pile of proposals, maybe they will see the need and hopefully increase funding.

When asked what Crookston has planned for broadband, Stassen answered with, “The fiber is in the ground, but there’s still not a lot of options.”

A similar article showed up in the St Cloud Times


Better broadband access is desperately needed in outstate Minnesota. Last session, the Legislature responded by creating a $20 million broadband grant program. This is a start, but it’s only a drop in the bucket.

To truly show a commitment to making border-to-border broadband a reality, the governor and lawmakers should support the recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband for $200 million for broadband funding in the next biennium.

There also is a question of how the money will be spent. It is imperative the state set the right tone by prioritizing projects that have the greatest impact on economic development. Rather than connecting isolated areas, funding should be driven toward communities where high-quality broadband access will benefit the most people and ignite economic activity.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 21, 2014

Minnesota Tech Titan awarded by Mpls St Paul Bus Journal

Fen to see who is getting top grades for technology work from Minneapolis St Paul Business Journal

The inaugural inductees into our Titans of Technology Hall of Fame: Phil Soran, Larry Aszmann and John Guider, the trio who launched Xiotech Corp. and Compellent Technologies Inc., two of the Twin Cities biggest tech success stories of the past two decades. ( Read more about them here.)

Other categories and honorees are below. Click the links to read more.

CIO/CTO : A current top IT CIO, CTO or equivalent executive position at a public, private or nonprofit company:

Community Hero : Recognizes an individual within the technology industry for their outstanding achievements in community involvement:

Investment Catalyst : Recognizes a significant investment transaction occurring since January 2011 that impacts and delivers sustainable economic results for the greater Twin Cities area and improves the technology innovation investment climate of the region:

Technology Advocate : Recognizes a technology advocate/champion for their outstanding leadership in assisting, advancing or accelerating the performance of technology companies and/or the technology community:

Technology Inventor : Recognizes the accomplishments of people responsible for the creation of breakthrough ideas, processes or products:

CEO : Honors chief executives at technology or communications-industry companies

I wanted to share the following – an impassioned request from the Resilient Region to the Minnesota Broadband Task Force…

On behalf of the Resilient Region theme champions and the public/private health care providers working with us on the telehealth project funded by the Blandin Foundation, I wish to share our request to have the Governor’s Broadband Task Force consider looking into the issues of Reimbursement Parity for Telehealth, Interstate Licensure, and Tele-Home Monitoring. 

August 18, 2014
Dear Senator Klobuchar, Senator Franken, and Members of the Governor’s Broadband Task Force,
On behalf of the Region V Virtual Highway Taskforce, we are asking you to resolve the following issues surrounding telehealth, in order to provide more effective and efficient healthcare services in our rural areas:
Reimbursement Parity for Telehealth – The list of eligible licensed medical and healthcare professionals should be expanded to include many more licensed providers who are able to effectively use telehealth to deliver timely, more convenient, and more cost-effective health services, including Certified Diabetic Educator RNs, speech pathologists, genetic counselors, audiologists and rehab therapists. We support that these changes be made at a federal level under Medicare, but also it is our hope that they will also be mandated by the State of Minnesota for MN Care, as well as all private insurers.
Interstate Licensure: The State of Minnesota should allow providers to practice telehealth  across state lines without going through the months of licensure currently required, in order to expand the options for telehealth services.  Many of our neighboring states already offer licensure reciprocity.
Tele-Home Monitoring: Home Health Monitoring services reduce hospital readmissions, and help people living with chronic diseases remain healthier in their homes.  An example of this is using the daily readings to prevent an episode of illness and the need for emergency care. This might include the medical provider working with a home care nurse adding an additional water pill dosage when weight gain is detected through daily weight readings.  This will decrease fluid retention in congestive heart failure patients.  Another example is observing the elderly administering daily insulin in order to allow the person to remain independent at home longer.  These services should therefore also be covered by Medicare, Medical Assistance, and other insurance plans.
Broadband infrastructure: We applaud the efforts made at the state and federal level to eliminate the digital divide and ensure broadband is available to all citizens, as this is necessary for telehealth services, including the last mile to the home.   We encourage you to continue with your hard work in ensuring that no rural home or farm is left behind.
Who are we? We are a community-driven, public, private, nonprofit, citizen, partnership that successfully engaged more than 600 individual in developing a multi-discipline, region-wide vision for the five county region of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena. The 18-month planning process, supported by HUD/DOT/EPA Sustainable Communities Project, earned us the status of “high-achieving grantee,” and led to the development of a comprehensive regional plan 
Today, over 46 individuals (from the public and private sectors), the “Resilient Region Champions,” are now actively leading the implementation of the plans developed during this process (see page 3).
The Virtual Highway Task Force includes all the champions listed as well as: Tri-county Hospital; Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation; Community Development of Morrison County; City of Staples Community Development;  Wadena Economic Development Corporation; the Brainerd Lakes Chamber; Good Samaritan Society; Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M-State); Resilient Living Council, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Public and Private Health care providers. We also coordinate our work with the BLAEDC and Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce High-Tech Sector Task Force and the CLC/MNSCU High Tech IT Task Force. We have letters of support for our work to help seniors age in place from: Commissioner Mary Tingerthal (Minnesota Housing Fund), Warren Hansen, (CEO, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund – GMHF). We have received a Blandin Foundation telehealth grant, a letter of support from Bernadine Joselyn (Blandin Foundation), and the loan of their broadband expert, Bill Coleman.
We represent 40,500 (seasonal and year-round) residents, 24,877 K-12 students (49% eligible for free or reduced school lunches), more than 401,605 northbound cars loaded with visitors (continuous traffic monitors August 2009), and 11,252 home-based businesses who generate $407,786,000 in revenue for the five-county region (Crow Wing and Cass Counties: Census 2010 and Morrison, Todd and Wadena Counties: ACS 2007). Advocates for improved broadband access come from ALL local units of government within the region (65 Cities & 5 Counties); hundreds of private sector companies; 27 school districts’, 2 community colleges (CLC and Minnesota STATE Community Technical College) and the 600 residents who worked on the creation of the regions “Resilient Region Plan”.
If you would like to contact us regarding these issues, please contact our Connectivity/Virtual Highway Project Director – Dr. Stacey Stockdill at
Resilient Region Theme Champions CHAMPION CHAIR: Tim Houle, Administrator, Crow Wing County  EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Dr. Larry Lundblad (President) Central Lake College (CLC) Craig Nathan (Regional Director) Rural MN CEP Dr. Chad Coauette (Executive Director) National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) Cheryal Lee Hills (Executive Director) Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) Monty Johnson, Senior Dean, Minnesota State Community & Technical College (M-State)  EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS Don Hickman (Vice President) Initiative Foundation Andrea Lauer, Mayor of Royalton Mel Radermacher (Controller of External Affairs and Member Services) R5DC Anna Gruber, City/County Manager, NJPA
TRANSPORTATION Tim Houle, (Engineer) Widseth, Smith, Nolting Jarrett Leas (Engineer) Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson Tad Erickson (Community & Economic Development Planner) R5DC
ECONOMIC ENGINES Greg Bergman (Director) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Rick Utech (Executive Director) Todd County Economic Development Corporation Vicki  Chepulis (Grants Coordinator) Five Wings Arts Council Arlene Jones (Owner/Operator) The Farm on St. Mathias (Manager) SPROUT Food Hub
CONNECTIVITY Pam Mahling (Corporate Resource Specialist) West Central Telephone Association (WCTA) Kevin Larson (CEO) Kristi Westbrock (COO) Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) Janelle Riley (CEO) Syvantis Technologies Stacey Stockdill, (CEO) EnSearch, Inc. Sally Fineday (Wireless Telecommunications Business Manager) Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Paul Drange, (Director of Regional Programs) National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) Janet Johnson, (Instructor) Minnesota State Community & Technical College (M-State)
ENERGY Bob Schaefer (Retired)  & Keith Olander (Associate Dean of Agriculture) Central Lakes College (CLC) Jason Edens (President) Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) Molly Zins (Executive Director) University of Minnesota Sustainable Development Partnership Sarah Hayden (Coordinator) Central Clean Energy Resource Team (CERTs)
HEALTHCARE Jani Wiebolt (retired COO) Essentia SJMC Tim Rice (CEO) Lakewood Health System John Solheim (CEO) & Amy Hart (COO) Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Bob McLean (COO/GM) Hunt Utilities Group Adam Rees (CEO) & Mike Larson (COO) Essentia Health Gwen Anderson, (Health and Social Services Division Manager) Crow Wing County
AFFORDABLE HOUSING/HOUSING Lynn Hunt (Chair of the Board) Resilient Living Council Jennifer Bergman (Executive Director) Brainerd HRA Colleen Faacks (Executive Director) Mid-MN Builders Association Janie Weston (Executive Director) Greater Lakes Association of Realtors Deanna Hemmesch (Executive Director) Central Minnesota Housing Partnership Amy Hunt McLain (Board) Resilient Living Council
CHANGING POPULATIONS Mary Sam (Director of Intercultural Services/Diversity/Tribal Relations) Central Lakes College (CLC) DeAnn Barry (Executive Director) Brainerd Lakes Area Senior Center Dean Loidolt (Community Service Developer) Central Minnesota Council on Aging (CMCOA) Dan Frank (Community Specialist) Initiative Foundation
NATURAL RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS Todd Holman (Program Director)The Nature Conservancy John Sumption (President) Sumption Environmental Phil Hunsicker, Author – Conservation Design Score Card


I have been in Lac qui Parle County all week. It’s a beautiful area where I’ve jokingly said you could drop a can of corn and find a full crop the next season. I was working with the LqP EDA on talking with local businesses about broadband. I was also lucky enough to check out what’s been happening in the schools based with the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) project.

I want to frame the notes saying that school Superintendent Renae Tostenson points out that the projects are very school-focused because the local community decided that the school and area students were the top priority. The hope is that now that the schools are using technology, others will follow.

My notes are a little jumbled – but I wanted to lead with the video from one of the students. Better than anything I could say, I think the student (Jim Daily) describes the difference technology can make to the students. (He is the personality behind the school news “channel” Eagle Eye news.) It doesn’t just make things faster – it opens doors…

and here’s the general presentation

And read on for a video of a teacher on how she uses the Chromebook in the classroom. Read More…

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 19, 2014

Northern MN going Gig with Paul Bunyan Communication

Paul Bunyan has always served their area well – but that’s about to upgrade to wow service. It’s really nice to see what a local, independent company is willing to do. It’s an investment for the cooperative members in the communities as well as an investment in the business.

Also it’s interesting to see Governor Dayton and Senator Klobuchar quoted in the press release. Governor support – financial and otherwise – makes a difference!


Paul Bunyan Communications announced today that it is launching the GigaZone, their new advanced regional Gigabit fiber network that will be one of the largest Gigabit networks in the country.

“This is a big day for our cooperative, members, and the region we serve. We’ve always been committed to giving our region the best possible communication services. When we were formed 63 years ago that meant quality telephone services to areas no other provider would serve. Today it means delivering advanced data services and Internet capabilities to our members unsurpassed by any region or any other provider in the country – regardless of size or location. The GigaZone will not only provide the capacity to handle current communication technologies quickly and efficiently, it will also meet the increasing demands of the next generation of broadband innovations,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.

“The launch of one of the largest rural gigabit networks in the United States will be a game changer for northern Minnesota. Expanding broadband is a great equalizing force for boosting rural economies. Today you don’t need to live off a major highway or in a bustling city to find a good job, start a new business, or get a high quality education but today you do need a high-speed Internet connection,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has championed the effort of rural broadband access at the national level since being elected.

“Border-to-border access to reliable cell phone and high-speed internet coverage is essential to Minnesota’s continued economic growth,” said Governor Mark Dayton, who working the legislature, invested $20 million in a new Broadband Infrastructure Grant Fund this year to expand access to high-speed internet in underserved areas of the state. “I thank Paul Bunyan Communications for their leadership on this important project, which will improve access to high-speed internet for thousands of homes and businesses across five Minnesota counties.”

“Access to broadband has become one of the driving forces in economic development. When I visit with companies, their initial questions focus on workforce and broadband. Coupled with our talent and quality of life, the GigaZone will put Bemidji above virtually any region in the United States as an ideal location for a high tech company or any other business”, added Dave Hengel, Greater Bemidji Executive Director.

There will be exciting new GigaZone service options including unprecedented Broadband Internet speeds up to 1000 Mbps – a Gigabit. Members who subscribe to GigaZone Broadband can also add PBTV Fusion and/or low cost GigaZone voice service with unlimited long distance. All current service options will also remain available to cooperative members within the GigaZone.

GigaZone advanced fiber network construction has started in Bemidji. Upcoming enhancements to Paul Bunyan Communications’ expansive regional fiber network will allow for the GigaZone to ultimately include their entire 5,000 square mile service area

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 18, 2014

Applications now open for Blandin Broadband Community Program

Blandin Foundation has worked with 69 communities across rural Minnesota since 2003 as they invest in high-speed Internet access and use.  From Baudette to Jackson, these joint initiatives have generated greater economic resilience and have bridged digital divides.  The Foundation now is accepting applications for one of its broadband-related initiatives, its 2015-2016 Blandin Broadband Community program.

Blandin Broadband Communities enter into an intensive two-year partnership with the Foundation and have access to a series of Foundation resources, including planning and facilitation support, a fund for community broadband-related projects, training and technical support, and more.  Up to 10 additional communities will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis pending verification of community support and implementation capacity.  Blandin Broadband Community applications for 2015-2016 are open until October 17, 2014.

“We have the great privilege of standing with Minnesota’s rural leaders as they imagine possibilities for their communities,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of Blandin Foundation.  “Access and use of high-speed Internet are absolutely core for the vibrant economies and quality of life these leaders seek for their communities.  We have seen amazing work among Blandin Broadband Communities, and we look forward to what is yet to come.”

Blandin Foundation works for vibrant rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all residents.  Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota.

Applications and information regarding  Blandin Foundation programs are available online or toll-free at 877-882-2257.


Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 18, 2014

Minnesota Broadband Task Force Sep 25 Agenda

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
September 25, 2014
The Arvig Building
2nd Floor – Don Swenson Room
150 Second Street SW Perham, MN 56573
12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

NOTE: Lunch will be provided beginning at 11:30.


12 – 12:15 –         Welcome/Approval of Minutes/Update from Office of Broadband Development


12:15 – 1:00 –      Presentation from Arvig


1:00 – 1:45 –        Video Presentation by John Deere – Mark Lewellen


1:45 – 2:45 –        Task Force Annual Report Review and Discussion of Subgroup Recommendations

2:45 – 3:00 –        Upcoming Meeting Details and Adjournment

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 17, 2014

Grants that might be helpful to rural broadband projects

I perused the list of grants from the recent Minnesota Rural Partners Roundup. I didn’t dig in too deep but the following looked like they might be potential resources…

Bush Foundation offers two opportunities to help your organization move toward innovation:

  • 2015 Community Innovation Grants — support for community problem-solving processes that lead to more effective, equitable and sustainable solutions — applications accepted through October 9.
  • Community Creativity Cohort — a one-time program designed to both recognize and learn from exemplary organizations that meaningfully engage people in the arts and integrate the arts into public life. The Community Creativity Cohort will inform the Foundation’s future work in the arts. Applications accepted through October 16.– Verizon Foundation Grants
Awards grants to nonprofit organizations that use innovate technologies to reduce health disparities for women, children, and seniors. Also funds STEM education and energy projects. Application deadline: Oct 10, 2014.Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge -Win $15,000.00 – enter today!
  • Are you a school, city, township, or county that has been innovating to improve services or reduce the cost of local government? Share your innovation for a chance to win $5,000 and a professional video highlighting your effort!
The Local Government Innovation Awards recognizes the creative ways counties, cities, townships, and schools are making Minnesota better and doing things differently.
  • USDA is offering grants to nonprofits through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) which provides financial and technical assistance to recipients in developing their capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or community and economic development. DEADLINE: 11/12/2014. Click here for application guidelines.
  • The first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is the marquee event of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative. Booming interest in entrepreneurship has led many people to think that entrepreneurship is synonymous with Silicon Valley. This Challenge instead highlights entrepreneurship and innovation from the heartland of Rural America. What is the Challenge? Link to Website for more information If you live in a nonmetro county this message is for you! Your business does not have to be ag related!

It looks like the applications aren’t out yet – but the Office of Broadband Development just released more information on the Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program. I feel like it’s a little like when the waitress brings the ketchup – the burger can’t be far away…

Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program  

Supplemental FAQs now available

We’ve added a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to our initial compilation and they are available on our website at (under “More Information”). Entities interested in applying for a grant please note that prevailing wages will apply and should be incorporated into the cost component of the application.

Updated County Maps Available

Connect Minnesota has updated the county maps showing served, underserved and unserved areas, as defined by statute, for eligibility for the grant program. The updated maps include the most current data collected from providers and should be used by an applicant to determine whether an area is eligible. The maps are available, by individual county, at the following link:

After review, if you have questions about the coverage shown, please complete the form on Connect Minnesota’s website at

Lake of the WoodsBaudette connects to Canada via a bridge built by local entrepreneur. Bernadine Joselyn was quick enough to make the connection to that bridge and the current growing connection/use of the Internet. It was interesting to hear what is happening in such a remote area. The Youth Center mentioned this was the first grant they have ever received. They just don’t have the volume of people to serve in the community to meet the threshold of some grants and foundations.

Also interesting to hear the impact of WiFi in the Senior Center – more people coming in for the space and the WiFi. One of the main dreams was to enhance the lives of local seniors and it sounds like that is happening. They have been working on a project that archives stories from local seniors and working to get seniors more comfortable with technology.

Otherwise, here’s a high level overview of what’s happening:

  • 50 computers from PC for People to new families. We worked with providers to give connections to those families as a reduced rate for the first year.
  • We have built WiFi sites and have logos for the public WiFi spots
  • We have provided training to businesses and seniors. It has improved lives of seniors – helps them keep connected to family and do research.
  • We have created an awareness of the value of the Internet. We have really set a new view of the Internet.

And some greater details Read More…

I wrote about the role of broadband in the brain gain wave in 2011 – so it’s fun to see it pop up again. The idea is that rural areas aren’t necessarily losing populaiton. Many young people do leave rural areas for high education and first jobs – but many move back when they have enough expereince and clout to choose where to live and get a job – more than move for a job. Aaron Brown picks up on this in a recent article for Blandin Outposts

Bell and his co-authors find that high-speed internet connectivity is a cornerstone in the attraction of returning professionals, something Winchester echoes after his research for U of M Extension Service.

“People almost expect to have [broadband internet],” said Winchester. “They’re surprised not to have it. It’s not something people search and hunt for; it’s something they expect to be there.”

Winchester said rural areas where high speed internet is available to the home see significant telecommuting opportunities from all over the country.

But internet alone won’t do the trick, either. Bell said that community collaboration and a responsive higher education system are also required elements for successful 21st Century community.

“What matters is that so many people take it personally and consider it urgent that they create the potential for broad collaboration,” writes Bell and the other authors in “Brain Gain: How Innovative Cities Create Job Growth in an Age of Disruption.” Throughout the book, stories of regrowth in industrial burgs like Stratford, Ontario, or Pittsburgh, join tales of success in smaller cities like Mitchell, South Dakota — home of the Corn Palace and also a modern tech infrastructure that’s generating jobs and growth.

Winchester believes that rural Minnesota needs a narrative that is both more accurate and indicative of the coming age. Winchester warns against the danger of “anecdata,” an informal sociological term referring to the substitution of personal anecdotes for data. We see struggling downtowns and lagging membership in community groups and assume the worst. Winchester said it’s just a matter of how professionals and young families are spending their time nowadays.

“[Younger] people want interest-based groups, not place-based groups,” said Winchester.

That’s why it might be easier to find volunteers for 5K races and bike clubs than for civic groups or chambers of commerce, or why many rural school boards seem to attract more young candidates than city councils.

“Minnesota’s population has gone up 7-10 percent,” said Winchester. “But nonprofit organizations went up 19 percent. Even in areas with less population, nonprofits went up. People are still active socially, they’re just doing very different things than they used to.”

So what does the future hold? Bell points out that there will be winners and losers, and most if has to do with local leadership.



Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 14, 2014

No FTTH for the Governor

The real reason I’m a little sad about this is that I live just a few miles from the Governor and I was hopeful. Also I walk by the Governor’s mansion a few times a week – they have been digging up the from yard for something. Seems like it might have been a good opportunity to Dig Once, but according to the Minneapolis St Paul Business Journal, the Governor will not be experiencing fiber-tastic broadband speeds anytime soon…

A plan to create a high-speed Internet link to the Minnesota governor’s mansion in St. Paul has been shelved amid questions about its purpose and $261,000 price tag.

Minnesota Public Radio reports on the project, which would have connected the mansion to the state’s existing fiber network and which had been in the works since 2013. An official said the decision to put the network on hiatus was based on “”ensuring the most cost-effective solution to meet long-term needs.”

The effort may have been seen as less necessary since CenturyLink announced it would introduce its own high-speed Internet service to the Twin Cities.

Posted by: Ann Treacy | September 13, 2014

MN Company Digi makes strides in wearable for healthy living

I’m a fan of wearbles. I hate to admit that I get a lot more use out of my $120 Fitbit than my $1500 Google Glass – but I think I’m the norm. I think it does demonstrate that there’s real potential to promote healthy decisions (as well as monitor health) with wearables. I was excited to see Digi, a Minnesota company, take the lead in making that happen. Good for health, good for economic development…

Etherios, a leader in IoT solutions and a division of Digi International (NASDAQ: DGII), today announced it has joined the Salesforce Wear initiative, creating the first ecosystem dedicated to accelerating the adoption of wearables in the enterprise. As part of the initiative, Etherios is focused on creating mobile-ready applications that help people lead a healthier lifestyle and improve their quality of life by leveraging an open solution that enables individuals to connect any wearable device to the Salesforce1 Platform through their AppExchange application, The Social Machine.

From remote patient monitoring to fitness tracking applications, Etherios is transforming wearable device data into actionable information. In one example, a patient’s health is monitored remotely from the comfort of their own home by hospital staff through connected scales, blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters that relay real-time information into the Salesforce1 Platform through The Social Machine. Family members can also take comfort as they receive updates on the status of their loved ones from their mobile device. Further, Etherios is enabling fitness tracking devices to encourage a more active lifestyle by creating “gamification” apps built on the Salesforce1 Platform. Companies are expanding their corporate wellness programs to include these apps and wearable devices to lower overall health insurance premiums for their employees.

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