UMVRDC helping 5 counties focus on broadband with planning and grant writing

The Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission promotes economic development in Big Stone, Lac qui Parle, Chippewa, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties. They were Blandin MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) cohorts, which means they received support and funding from the Blandin Foundation (and ARRA funds) for broadband development. They have been working on broadband adoption for years.

Lac qui Parle also received ARRA funding to deploy FTTH. So as a group they have also been thinking about access. Prairie Business reports on their continued effort with Minnesota Broadband Funding…

Policy-makers in the counties see broadband access as critical to providing the economic and social competitiveness that constituents in the counties want, explained Dawn Hegland, executive director of Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission, which serves Big Stone, Lac qui Parle, Chippewa, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties.

The growing interest is paying dividends. The Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband project recently awarded a $3.92 million grant to Big Stone County and Federated Telephone Cooperative to lay fiber optic cable to 1,072 sites in the county.

It follows the lead of Lac qui Parle County, which previously obtained $9.6 million in loan and grant funds to deliver fiber optic technology to an estimated 3,700 people. The county worked in partnership with Farmers Mutual Telephone to become a leader in rural, broadband access.

The RDC assisted Big Stone County in making its successful application for the Border-to-Border funding. It also assisted Swift County in applying for the funding. Hegland expects Swift County re-apply if the Legislature approves the funding to continue the Border-to-Border initiative.

Hegland said Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties are likewise working with the RDC office on this broadband initiative.

It’s nice to see that regional approach.

This entry was posted in MN, MN Broadband Fund Awards 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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