Blandin Foundation awards grant to Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to build wireless broadband network

I’m going to apologize in advance for a large number of posts this afternoon. The Blandin Foundation has just announced a round of broadband grant awards and I want to post each award individually so that it’s easier to access in the archive and so that each community will have its own post to promote. Thanks!

Blandin Foundation awards grant to Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to build wireless broadband network

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (July 29, 2014) – Blandin Foundation announced today that it has awarded six grants totaling $123,190 that assist rural Minnesota communities in advancing high-speed Internet access and use in their communities, including a grant to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO).

LLBO will begin deployment of a wireless network across the reservation to provide quality broadband to tribal members, with support of a $50,000 Blandin Foundation grant.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Blandin Foundation previously were successful with a Feasibility Study that supports the broadband community project. The Blandin Grant of $50,000.00 is the first leveraged funds that will kick start the Leech Lake Band’s project to provide broadband services (internet in the home) first to the communities of Cass Lake and Bena utilizing towers owned by the Band.

“Broadband will produce increased access to health and education, spur growth in rural economies, including ultimately alleviating the hardship of long distance fees for what should be local dialing in tribal lands,” says Sally Fineday, Business Manager for the Leech Lake Telecommunications Company. “This innovative partnership with Blandin Foundation means success for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe with its broadband network within its tribal lands.”

As part of a five-year build out plan, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will utilize their five existing towers plus three casino towers and build eight additional towers to provide wireless broadband service throughout its tribal lands including communities like Ball Club, Inger, S Lake, Cut Foot, West Winnie, Prescott, Oak Point, Sugar Point, Federal Dam, Kego Lake, Mission, Cass River, and Onigum, where broadband services were not previously available. The towers also will boost mobile service coverage along major highways throughout the tribal lands.

“Rural leaders know that connected communities are vibrant communities,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of Blandin Foundation. “We are delighted to see Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe pull resources together to plan for access to – and use of – high-speed Internet so critical to work and life today.”

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