Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of eleven Broadband Infrastructure projects that will enable rural residents in nine states to have access to improved economic and educational opportunities. Good news for Minnesota – the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group was one of the communities awarded funds:
Southwest Minnesota Broadband Group (SWMBG): $6,350,000 loan and $6,350,250 grant. The funding will provide service to eight rural communities throughout Southwest Minnesota.
A press release from U-reka Broadband, a member of the Broadband Group highlights the enthusiasm of local officials with the news.
“As a strong advocate for broadband development, I met with this group and I was supportive of their project,” said Klobuchar, a Minnesota-based U.S. Senator. “As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity – we must now do the same for broadband internet access. I have heard first-hand from Minnesotans about the importance of making sure they have access to fast and affordable high speed internet. This project will increase rural broadband access, and improve health, education and public safety services across southwestern Minnesota.”
John Schultz, President of U-reka Broadband Ventures, was also kind enough to answer some questions for me about the final stages of the funding process:
Did you get any indication on your success before you got the final word?
We got a call at 8:45am yesterday morning before the public notice went out. We had gotten some indications over the last couple of weeks but had nothing concrete to go on until the call.
Did you find the RUS team easy to work with?
We did not find due diligence overly cumbersome, they gave us a concise list of requirements to complete. We completed those well within the 30 day window. After that there was no additional communication.
Did you need to make any big changes?
We made no changes to the application through due diligence, it was approved as submitted.
After speaking to Washington RUS representatives this morning we are expecting our package and requirements in the next 2-3 weeks.