The Bemidji Pioneer recently picked up a cue from the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities imploring rural voters to remember broadband when making their choices…
An aging workforce with inadequate Internet connections is hurting rural Minnesota, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities says.
They are issues voters must consider when picking the next governor, said Glencoe Mayor Randy Wilson, the coalition’s president. “These are really tough and complex problems, and it is imperative that whoever the next governor is, he has a vision and a plan for greater Minnesota and will work with us to resolve these issues.”
Politicians have talked for years about the need to improve greater Minnesota’s workforce and Internet connections, as well as transportation, but relatively little has been done.
The coalition, an organization of 85 cities outside of the Twin Cities, discussed the issues at a recent conference in Rochester.
One striking figure is that just 45 percent of greater Minnesota homes “are connected at speeds needed for present-day applications,” the coalition reports. That compares to 92 percent of Twin Cities homes.
This year’s Legislature approved an initial contribution to improving rural broadband, otherwise known as high-speed Internet. But it was just a drop in the bucket of what rural leaders say is needed.
Sen. Matt Schmit, D-Red Wing, is leading a statewide tour for the second year to discuss the broadband issue. Since next year is when lawmakers and the governor compile the next two-year budget, rural leaders hope they can get more funding.
I have to add that I’m not sure I agree with the idea that relatively little has been done. I’d like to see even more happen – but Legislators approved an Office of Broadband Development and Broadband Deployment Fund – those are big steps in the right direction!