Almost $20 million in state grants have gone to 17 communities in Minnesota to expand broadband and make the case to legislators (and the general public) that such investments are wise and have a valuable Return on Investment. I wanted to delve into each project a bit to help us follow the money as it gets deployed. (See other awardee posts.)
Halstad Telephone Co., Halstad Tract MN 11902500 FTTH. Awarded $1.65 million to provide broadband service to 249 unserved locations in Polk County. The full project cost is $3.3 million; the remaining $1.65 million (50 percent) match will be provided by a private investment made by Halstad Telephone. This project surrounds the outskirts of Crookston on all sides except the west side. Halstad’s existing service area will help provide middle mile redundancy to the proposed project area.
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project area is highly agricultural. U.S. Department of Agriculture research shows employment grows faster in counties that have greater broadband Internet access than in similarly situated rural counties without broadband access. The research also states the farm sector is more likely to embed broadband Internet access into productivity, as its basic inputs are more fixed than other sectors of the economy.
Ultimately, broadband technology will ensure farmers and ranchers can stay on top of the market and diversify their industry offerings.
In 2010, Halstad was awarded ARRA stimulus funding…
Halstad Telephone Company (HTC): The HTC Minnesota Exchanges Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) Project; $3,277,500 loan and $3,277,500 grant. The funding will provide FTTP broadband in five towns and surrounding rural/farm areas in Norman and Polk Counties in Minnesota, using 320 miles of fiber optic cable and providing those locations with broadband capability up to 100 Megabits. (less than five percent of this network will serve an area in North Dakota).
I assume that this will help extend that network. I don’t know, but it seems like this is probably a very “shovel-ready” project, one that might have results quickly enough to show legislators and others the impact of state funding.
Halstad has also been recognized for some of the community’s good use of technology by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) in their Smart Rural Communities report in 2012.
Just to help track progress, here are some recent stats on Polk County:
On broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):
- Household Density: 6.4
- Number of Households: 12,704
- Percentage serviced (without mobile): 98.52%
- Percentage serviced (with mobile): 98.52
Census quick facts (from 2013):
- Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013: $128,100
- Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013: $25,790
- Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013: 12.6%
- Private nonfarm establishments, 2012: 768
- Private nonfarm employment, 2012: 9,589