MIRC Community Update: Leech Lake

As the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) initiative winds down, demonstration communities are taking time to reflect on what has happened in their community as a result of added focus on broadband and broadband projects in the area. Each community will go through this process looking at what’s happened, lessons learned and plans for the future. One of the public benefits of federal funding for a project link this is the opportunity each community has to share what they have learned and the opportunity that other communities have to glean from their lessons. And so today I’m pleased to share notes from Windom (Actually I have notes to share all week. I’ll add this preamble to each for historical context – but each day will be a new community.)

Here is the update from Leech Lake

Bernadine provided a nice meeting introduction.

Cass Lake Chamber has been awarded the MES $1500 community grant.  Sue Schafroth of the Cass Lake Chamber will take the lead on helping area small businesses get online.  The Chamber and band are both interested in the asset mapping idea.

Asset mapping starting in the natural resource division.  They are now mapping tribal trust housing sites.  Matching up the livable lots with quality septic systems is the first priority.  Also mapping wild rice assets now.  Wanting to move to mapping of businesses and other recreational community mapping.  Some of the assets are to highlighted through Google maps – parks, business, etc.  Others are more for tribal policy and management, like the housing sites.  This ties to state tax revenue – tribal revenue logistics.  This is a long term project, and will be ongoing.

The TEP Project – Computer Digital Literacy training.  Incorporating the value of the skills into the pay rate of TEP.  They are now collecting data from participants to better target future training.   Now making referrals to ABE and other agencies for continued training.

The oldest trainee was 72 years old.  We also have youth WIA workers for up to 7 weeks and MFIB 12 weeks of work.

TEP jobs can turn into full time positions.  The TEP is also active placing workers in the Twin Cities.  Janice will provide some stories. Moving people towards their GED.  One young woman learned some computer skills and is now pursing GED using computer labs.  The high tech – high touch support is paying off!

They are using some tribal staff to teach specific Office applications.  TEP student workers help learners in the computer labs, which is a great benefit to both trainers and learners.

LLBO (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) is strengthening ties with DEED in efforts to bring a satellite workforce center; MIRC has facilitated this emerging partnership.

Tribal college is considering adding some marketing online training emphasis.

PC’s for People have distributed the first 25 computers.  Now they have received the additional 25.  It’s too late in the year to give computers through the Head Start program as they are not in session.  Alternative approach is to work through TEP and distribute them through TEP.

They have had local PC’s for People with the Boys and Girls Clubs, TEP, Bemidji State, 3 day event.

They are thinking about a Local YouTube festival. It’s nice to see the innovation with you programming.

Boys and Girls Club has a new computer lab with eight computers. Lab is open; it’s a nice lab.

And the bottom line results:

  • Broadband adoption up to 52.9% from 48.8%.
  • Broadband access up to 97.4% from  83.6%

Some comments from attendees:

Mike Jones: “I want to thank you for the opportunity to be part of this program.  This has helped us demonstrate to our  community members that our temporary employment program is not just about day laborers but that we are working to prepare our people for better employment opportunities. We’ll be training doctors and nurses here pretty soon.”

Janice Gale: “I never thought it would turn out to be this big for us when we got started.”

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