Economic Impact of fiber in Lake County

The Grand Forks Herald recently featured the story of Lake County Internet efforts. We’ve talked about the project before – which is an ARRA-supported project intended to bring fiber to are.

The incumbents fear that the ARRA loan is too much and that taxpayers will end up paying back the hefty loan…

County officials estimate they need 65 percent of households to subscribe in order for them to repay their loan.

Larson, of Medicacom, doesn’t believe that’s realistic. He said to reach that number, the county will have to sign up a lot of new subscribers in rural areas, as well as take the majority of customers away from existing providers in larger towns like Two Harbors.

“It’s going to fail,” he said. “I don’t know how else to say it more plainly than that to the taxpayers of Lake County. It’s going to fail, and they’re going to have to pay it back.”

Local leaders feel that the County needs the fiber to increase safety and economic opportunities…

But Lake County Commissioner Paul Bergman said Mediacom has not improved or expanded its service, and could have itself applied for stimulus funds.

Bergman said the new network is critical to improve the region’s public safety. Twice in the past two years, including during recent flooding, the county lost 911 emergency service. He said a network with a backup line like the one the county is building will maintain service even if a line is cut.

He said the county also needs the new network for economic development.

“One of the things that I hear at class reunions is ‘I’d love to move back home if I had a job,’” Bergman said. “Well, here we bring in a whole new avenue where people, their headquarters might be in Minneapolis or Hong Kong, they could still work out of their house on a shore of a lake here in Lake County.”

This entry was posted in FTTH, MN, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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